The Sexual Life of Catherine M. **BOOKRING**

by Catherine Millet | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1852428112 Global Overview for this book
Registered by SwissToni of Nottingham, not specified not specified on 3/18/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
16 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by SwissToni from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Thursday, March 18, 2004
"...the autobiography of a well-known Parisian art critic who likes to spend nights in the singles clubs of Paris and in the Bois de Boulogne where she has sex with a succession of anonymous men." [back cover]

This kicked up quite a stir when it was published, because it is such a frank, cold, mechanical description of the sex life of an extremely promiscuous woman. It's still pretty uncommon to hear or see women talking about sex like this. Mind you, that's nothing to the stink this kicked up in France, where the lovely miss Millet is a well-known face on French tv. Can you imagine if Joan Bakewell or Kirsty Wark announced something similar over here? Not surprisingly the book sold in record quantities over there....

This is quite an interesting read, but the author is oddly detached from everything that is happening around her (and on her, and in her, and over her...) This makes for a lot of unerotic descriptions of Ms Millet's rather varied, eventful and ultimately boring and unfulfilling sexlife. I'm not sure the translation does her any favours either. Surely the French must have a rich and varied choice of words to describe the male genitalia? The word "member" is much used here, and it's rather reminiscent of Cleland's "Fanny Hill", which is both better and funnier and a whole lot less pretentious!

Still, it's short.

Release planned for Saturday, March 20, 2004 at Postal Release in Postal release, Postal Release Controlled Releases.

Righto - off we go then.

Here are the participants:

LeighBCD (UK)
Mytilusgirl (UK)
Nut (Ire)
And then back to me!

Here are the rules:

1. When you receive the book, make a journal entry so we all get the thrill of knowing where it's at...

2. PM the next person in line for their address.

3. Read the book, and make a journal entry to tell us what you thought

4. Make release notes/a journal entry to say when the book is leaving your hands and who'll be catching it next, and pop it into the post!

Any problems, ping me a private message!

Journal Entry 3 by LeighBCD on Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Hey! First stop on the bookring. I am very intrigued to read this book, it is rather notorious. Thanks, too, for the postcard... I am so glad you had a wonderful time in Australia - when are you going back again? Once is never enough!!

I will read this asap and make another journal entry soon.

Journal Entry 4 by LeighBCD on Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Hey SwissToni... just read your profile and I saw you were wondering why so many Aussies decided to join this ring. I think it is must be that we are deeply curious about French people... this book is going to re-inforce our insecurity that everyone else in the world, especially the French, must have better sex lives than we do! :-) I will be interested to see if any of my fellow Aussies who come after me agree!!

Journal Entry 5 by LeighBCD on Sunday, April 11, 2004
I have to agree with swisstoni... I had not read your review before starting the book and I also found it to be very mechanical, as if Millet were an observer on her own life rather than living it. Detached is exactly the word to describe it. So detached was she, in fact, that I skim read the second half of the book, it just did not engage me at all. Rather than feeling as if I had led an inadequate sex life in comparison to hers, instead the book left me feeling very sorry for her - she seemed an empty person somehow and was clearly seeking affection wherever she could find it. It was interesting she ran away from home so often as a kid... anyway, as one of those scandalous books that every literati or intelligentsia must read, I am glad I was able to join the ray... thanks so much! The book will be on its way to the next BXer during the course of this week.

Journal Entry 6 by LeighBCD at on Thursday, April 15, 2004
Released on Thursday, April 15, 2004 at to mytilusgirl in Plymouth, England Controlled Releases.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Journal Entry 7 by Mytilus from Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom on Friday, April 16, 2004
Arrived today.

I'll start this tonight, cheers!

Journal Entry 8 by Mytilus from Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom on Saturday, April 24, 2004
I have to agree with SwissToni and LeighBCD, in that I got the impression that this book was written in the third person. I found it almost impossible to engage emotinoally with Catherine M. Perhaps an element of this is because her lifestyle is so alien to mine (gosh, sounding like a prude here!) but also perhaps alien to herself as well, deep down. I couldn't decide if she regretted her life at all, specifically, would she really live it the same way again, given hindsight? It's perhaps at this juncture that I ought to confess to not finishing the book, so I have no idea if she covers this later, sorry!

I must admit that it was a healthy dose of curiosity that propmted me to put my name down for this book. I'm pleased I did, though, despite my words above! Thank you SwissToni!

Oh yeah, and I'll be popping to the Post office on Monday to send it on to Netstation.

Journal Entry 9 by wingNetstationwing from Coventry, West Midlands United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 02, 2004
I just signed on to put my review here before sending the book onwards, and I'm embarrased to find that I didn't journal its arrival. Sorry guys, it got here three weeks ago now.

What to say that hasn't already been said? Cold, detached, dispassionate: a collection of sexual experiences that certainly outweighs my own, but having read this I'm convinced I have more fun than Miss M.

I suppose the book is summed up for me by a quote others may not have seen, as it's very near the end of the book: "I am not docile because I like submission, but out of indifference to the uses to which we put our bodies." Well that makes two of us Miss M, as I'm completely indifferent to the uses to which you put your body. I can admire the author's candour and bravery, but I'm afraid that reading this didn't add anything to the sum of knowledge, experience, or enjoyment for me.

Off now to Fuji, and I'll be very interested to read the later journals for this.

Journal Entry 10 by fuji from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, June 09, 2004
This arrived yesterday - I plan to read it this weekend and will journal my thoughts when finished.
Many thanks to all for getting it to me!

Journal Entry 11 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Thursday, July 22, 2004
I have it thanks. Looks like a quick read. will let you know. Thanks to you all.

Journal Entry 12 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Sunday, July 25, 2004
I forgot to mention that I really liked the postcard that came with this. "Secretary" was one of my favourite films last year

Journal Entry 13 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Thursday, July 29, 2004
Thanks to all of you:

swisst: who I reckon had one of the worst photographs I have ever seen on his profile page. I must check if it is still there.

leighBCD: we have had some book exchanges recently. Cannot remember what tho. I hope you are well

MG: ditto. ?Did we share a "Dark Secret"

Netstation: who has been kind enought to help me a **secret project**. Imagine Dr Evil doing the quotation marks there

Fuji: thanks for sending the book. And the postcard. By the way you need to do your journal entry.

Now the book:
It is short but still too long. Many of the "interactions" are described twice. Once under "Numbers" and then under "Space" or "Confined Space".

Hey Toni there are plenty of other terms used: Shaft, dick, organ, sex machine (true), cock, penis. But yes it does get tedious.

There is a distance in the descriptions but still an almost palpable pleasure in parts. I think the only thing that is really "shocking", (and I mean by that "shocking to the world", because I was not shocked) is that it is written by a female.

The story ranges from
comic: the descriptions of an ever growing convoy of cars being driven around Paris seeking out a place for a group bonk; the games of visiting people with the express purpose of getting them to join in group activities. It doesn't sound comic when I write it like that but in the book it was.

to boring: the endless descriptions of what participants do with their organs, pussys, cunts, sex machines etc etc

through deep and meaningful: the descriptions of having to masturbate while her mother slept in the same bed; being felt up by the grandfather of a friend

There is a couple of really lovely bits of prose on page 95 where she compares the pleasure of a journey, to an erotic pleasure. And the feeling of waking to an "as yet unexplored ceiling" and not knowing "which corridor led to the bathroom".

in the end I think she just got a bit bored with it all.
I am nearly to the end of the book and will maybe write a bit more and rate it then.
I am really pleased to have read this and many thanks again all, esp ST for letting go.

Journal Entry 14 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Friday, July 30, 2004
And dear netstation, if you reckon that you have more fun than this bird, we must have a beer and a chat one day to talk about it.

Journal Entry 15 by LeighBCD on Friday, July 30, 2004
Newk... thanks for the most entertaining journal entries for a book I have read in quite a while!! ;-)

Journal Entry 16 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Friday, July 30, 2004
why thankyou. I think it is obvious that this book, despite its flaws, has really worked for me. AND I haven't even finished yet. If I had not been up all night (our time) working I would finish it in an hour or so today.

Journal Entry 17 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Finished and I am giving it an overall positive rating. It is too long. And it is boring in parts. There is some problems with the translation.... there are some sentences that no matter how hard I try I cannot work out what they mean.
Nevertheless there is an underlying pleasure that comes out of this book. For the reasons outlined in my previous entry.
I also must point out the really great "fornicatory communication" piece on page 30 and 31. There are other examples in the book as well. It is so funny for so many reasons that cannot be written here. I am sure that it will bring a quiet smile to many readers. They are the ones who have had the fun!
Many thanks to the ugliest man alive for organising this ring. Also thanks again to all those before me who helped keep this book intact on its journey to me and beyond.
I shall post this today and confirm with an entry.

Journal Entry 18 by SwissToni from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Wednesday, August 04, 2004
good job I'm not a sensitive soul, isn't it?


otherwise a very satisfyingly fulsome review!

Journal Entry 19 by newk from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Wednesday, August 04, 2004
took the dog for a walk and put the book in the post box. Yes sorry swissy that was probably a bit rough. I should have stuck to the line about the bad photographs.
and mmmmmmmm fulsome? not sure.
cheers again all. Happy bookcrossing

Journal Entry 20 by wingawaywithfairieswing from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Saturday, August 07, 2004
Found in the mailbox today. Many thanks!

Journal Entry 21 by wingawaywithfairieswing from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Finally finished reading this a couple of days ago. It took me a little while as I couldn't really read it on the train. Tried it once and had someone reading over my shoulder with a very puzzled look on their face!

I have to agree with SwissToni. This was certainly graphic but not erotic. A somewhat cold and detached description of one woman's sex life.

Journal Entry 22 by wingawaywithfairieswing at on Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Released 15 yrs ago (9/13/2004 UTC) at



Posted to sunny27 today along with a bonus book.

Journal Entry 23 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Monday, September 20, 2004
Boorkring the third to land in my mailbox in the last week. I shall endeavour to get to it as soon as I can.
My PM's don't seem to be reaching their destinations recently, so big thanks to awaywithfairies and cheery waves to swisstoni!

Journal Entry 24 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Monday, October 04, 2004

Well, well, well. What do we have here?

It didn't read as a novel, it didn't read as a memoir. Was it a textbook? I don't think I learned anything.

I really think that it may have lost something in the translation. I certainly hope there was a bit more flair in the original French.

I felt sad for Catherine throughout most of this book. I felt sorry that she has had the fortune to find herself in so many extraordinary situations and yet gained so little from the experience. I still have no idea who she is or how she feels or what her likes or dislikes are, and I don't think she could tell me herself.

As I read the book a line from a song kept going through my head "I feel better when I'm numb". Having felt like that myself in the past, I wonder whether her behaviour is an attempt to get away from herself. I wasn't at all surprised when she told the story about the old man who felt her up as a child and I do think this wasn't the only experience of abuse she had as a child.

Anyway, I'm a great fan of good erotica so give me Anais Nin any day.

On it's way to Jubby as we speak ...

Journal Entry 25 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Received in the post today.

Thank you SwissToni (are you really the ugliest?) and everyone else (enjoyed reading your journal entries nearly as much as the book).

Will finish reading and post within a week.

Read 50 pages on the bus yesterday. Felt a bit flushed reading something like this in public (yes, I am a prude). Have not been able to put it down, but agree with others, it is rather cold and detached.

Not as good as Anais Nin's 'Deltas of venus'.

Journal Entry 26 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Monday, October 11, 2004
Where do I begin?

Firstly, I would like to say thank you to Swiss Tony for sharing this book with us all. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to have read this book (and to have had a look at your profile picture).

Frankly, I didn't enjoy the book, and had to force myself to finish it.
I think a lot was lost in the translation, and would often lose the thread of the story.

I recently read 'A private man', by Malcolm Knox (an Australian writer) for our book club (, where the author discussed his work also. In the story there is a character who is sexually abused and emotionally neglected, and who works in the 'adult entertainment' industry as an adult. I just kept seeing parallels between that character and Catherine M.

Here is an intelligent and gifted woman, but (and this is purely my own opinion) is socially retarded, and can only relate to people on a physical level, and never lets people get close to her emotionally.
She finds it easier to give a blow job to a complete stranger, rather than ask where the woman she is meant to be meeting is.

I didn't find this book erotic or arousing, but rather sad and depressing.

Thank you again.

Journal Entry 27 by jubby at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Monday, October 11, 2004

Released 15 yrs ago (10/11/2004 UTC) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Posting on to libertine101.

Journal Entry 28 by libertine101 from Perth City, Western Australia Australia on Sunday, October 17, 2004
Pulled this one out of my mailbox just a few minutes ago. The postie wedged it into my slot so hard that I had to really tug hard to get it out....ermm...*get your minds out of the gutter* ;P

Seriously though,,he DID wedge it in so hard....;)

Okay, this book...I almost missed out on this bookring. I did not know about it until newk pmmed me about it and SwisToni was kind enough to slot (eep! there is that word again!) me in.

Its been interesting reading all your comments about this book. I shall report back when I am done.

Journal Entry 29 by libertine101 from Perth City, Western Australia Australia on Thursday, October 21, 2004
I found this book to be a very interesting one.
I read it with an open mind and neither admire or pity the author for the life she has led.
Quite a few of you have commented on how 'cold and detatched' she described some of the sexual exploits. I did not see it that way. To me, her writing seemed very matter-of-fact because sex was a way of life for her. A daily act. It was perhaps like breathing for her.
So why does a woman with a very active sex life make a good 'story' for a book? Because we are all voyeurs to varying degrees? We are curious. And she seems to be beyond the 'norm'.

I DID find it to be an erotic book - in parts. And I was very amused to see the word 'libertine' pop up here and there. ;)

Journal Entry 30 by guinevere69 from Willetton, Western Australia Australia on Sunday, October 31, 2004
got off Libertine at meetup today

Journal Entry 31 by guinevere69 from Willetton, Western Australia Australia on Thursday, November 11, 2004
Not sure what I expected from this book but was rather disappointed. I found it very repetative and not at all shocking, instead rather sad. The sex was described too matter-of-factly to be erotic, and really it was just badly written and needed some severe editing. Off to Mundoo

Journal Entry 32 by Mundoo from Hindmarsh Island, South Australia Australia on Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Arrived today in the mail.

Journal Entry 33 by Mundoo from Hindmarsh Island, South Australia Australia on Saturday, December 25, 2004
I didn't finish reading this book. I started with high hopes, it became very mechanical in a short period of time and I wondered at times where the story (if there was one) was going. I perservered and then started reading another book with picking this one up in between. I finally decided to abandon reading this book seeing I had read 2 others in the mean-time. Not an erotic book and very mechanical.

Released on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at about 8:30:00 PM BX time (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada) at By Mail in Controlled Release, Given to a fellow bookcrosser Controlled Releases.


Posted to writinreader in USA. Should take about 3 weeks to arrive from Australia

Journal Entry 35 by rem_NFI-175395 on Monday, January 10, 2005
It arrived safe and sound. As soon as I finish the book I am currently reading I'll get started on this one. Thanks for sharing it.

Journal Entry 36 by rem_NFI-175395 on Monday, January 24, 2005
Just over half through this book I decided that I didn't want to read anymore. I found it sad how mechanical this woman was toward such a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing the book.

Journal Entry 37 by rem_NFI-175395 at mailing to another Bookcrosser in Florence, Kentucky USA on Monday, January 24, 2005

Released 15 yrs ago (1/24/2005 UTC) at mailing to another Bookcrosser in Florence, Kentucky USA



Sending this to Weeblet

Journal Entry 38 by weeblet from Jacksonville, Florida USA on Tuesday, February 01, 2005
got it!
and i've read a few pages, and i don't think this is my bag~ a little depressing. i'll either read a bit more, or all of it and send it along anon :)

Journal Entry 39 by weeblet from Jacksonville, Florida USA on Monday, February 07, 2005
blech-pooey. and it wasn't the subject matter, but the depression that sets in while reading.
i got rather a lot of enjoyment from mundoo's postcard, however. i've spent a bit of mental time relaxing there lately :)
mailing today!

Journal Entry 40 by Enidq on Saturday, February 19, 2005

Journal Entry 41 by amaradevinmom on Thursday, May 26, 2005
received today. Will read and get out.

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