Sunday, May 8, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Carrie's Story by Molly Weatherfield

Release Date: July 26th, 2002
Publisher: Cleis
Page Count: 220
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Naked Reader Book Club in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

"I had been Jonathan's slave for about a year when he told me he wanted to sell me at an auction. I wasn't in any condition to respond when he told me this..."

So begins Carrie's tale of uncompromising sexual adventure. Imagine Story of O starring a Berkeley PhD in comparative lit (who moonlights as a bike messenger) with a penchant for irony, self-analysis, and anal sex. Set in San Francisco and the Napa valley, Carrie's Story takes the reader on a sexually explicit journey into a netherworld of slave auctions, training regimes, and human "ponies" preening for dressage competitions.
The first thing I want to tell you is that your impressions of this book are nothing what it actually is like. The cover is haunting, and the blurb rather raunchy, but even as a novel encompassing the infamous human slave auction, or even further, human pony camps, Carrie's Story is more than a work of erotica, more than literary pornography; it is truly a work of art.

I'd never read an BDSM novel before, and quite frankly, I'd never wanted to. But being a Naked Reader Book Club member, I decided I would have to face my discomforts, and give Carrie's Story, one of the monthly selections, a chance. Sometimes, you discover the best things in life by taking the highest of risks. And in this case, that's exactly what happened.

I'm not saying I love S/m now. No. The thought of it still makes me a little queasy. But this book has brought me into a whole new world of literature, one that I find myself craving. BDSM—bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism—is a taboo subject of nature itself. Flogs, chains, gags, and leather aren't even the extremest of it in this neo-Victorian novel. Think ponies. Human ponies. Think bridles and reigns on human bodies, think whips and saddles on human flesh. Think tails, attachable only through a plug through the anus, and think of modern slavery. All very frightening concepts that I have been introduced to, and am no longer disgusted with. Don't get me wrong. Carrie's Story doesn't downplay anything, oh no. You get the rawest of humiliation, the ugliest of flaws, and the most painful of experiences. You also get unblemished emotions, ranging from homeliness, to loss, to desire, and a love story that is so untraditional in doctrine, that it makes you want to be a part of it.

Jonathan is every literature geek's dream. Handsome, obscure, slightly older. And Carrie is just the right girl to fall for him. Little does she know what she's in for... well, aside from the fact that he asks her to be his slave within hours of acquainting. "Meet me at 3 pm," he says, handing her a folded note with an address. Obviously, Carrie won't take up on his offer; he is a stranger, after all. Miraculously, she does, though. And so begins their long, but surreptitiously short-lived relationship.

The horrors of being beaten as a sexual fetish have always dawned on me. I've never found it arousing, or even amusing in the least. Carrie's Story hasn't changed that in me, but I still admit many of the sex scenes are mind-blowing. The fact that one could love the person who beats and whips them until bruises brandish, and permanent welts form, is beyond my perception. Molly Weatherfield however, does an extraordinary job convincing me.

A question arises while reading this novel: How is the fine line between two lovers and a slave and a master determined? I always thought it would be difference in inclination of emotions, but after reading Carrie's Story, I've learned that the way you as a woman, feel about your lover, is not too distant from the way you as a slave, feel about your master. And that is the message Carrie tries to bear.

Stephanie Loves: Jonathan's parting letter to Carrie that made me cry:
"Dear Carrie,
You will continue brave and beautiful, I know. In a year, you'll be much more so than you are now. I sold you at this auction because I wanted to see if I—and you—could pull it off. But I also did it because if I hadn't done it, I would have wanted to call the whole game off and see if we could become friends. Or lovers. Or something. Go to the movies and see if we liked the same ones. I still want to and this is both surprising and disturbing ...
Salut, J."

Radical Rating: 9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Update—March 2013

Nearly two years in this original review's wake, I've revisited the newly reissued 2012 edition of Carrie's Story, which can be found here. Enjoy!