Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: "Obsession: An Erotic Tale" by Gloria Vanderbilt

Caution: This book is strangely addictive! I picked it up yesterday afternoon and read it in one sitting, unable to tear myself away.

The first sentence of this book is "If ever two were one, it could be said of Priscilla and Talbot Bringham". The perfect couple, he a high-powered yet controversial architect and she his loyal and devoted wife. Priscilla is devastated when Talbot dies unexpectedly in the middle of their tenth wedding anniversary celebration. After he passes, she finds herself in his office, where his boldest designs were created. Priscilla comes across a file marked "Private" and inside finds Talbot's personal correspondence from over the years, some of it from her. Sorting through the pile, she comes across a burgundy envelope and when she opens it, she is shocked to find letters from someone named "Bee". These letters are descriptions of all kinds of erotic encounters that Bee has been having with Talbot throughout their marriage. Priscilla is devastated upon reading this highly personal, sexually charged correspondence. She knew that she didn't enjoy sex as much as Talbot did, but she thought that she hid it well, never denying her husband anything.

As the letters are opened, one after another, the reader is invited into this world of strange fantasy and erotic imaginings. Toeing the line between reality and fantasy, we are taken to far-off places where regular rules don't apply. As we approach the end of the book, we are confronted with a mystery: are these letters really from Talbot's lover Bee, or are these the erotic imaginings suppressed deep in Priscilla's own mind?

Beautifully and skillfully written, this book drew me in from the beginning. "Obsession: An Erotic Tale" is short, yet the plot is intricate, and the conclusion leaves the reader puzzled yet intrigued. It's been a while since I've read a book that was quite this clever and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I admit that I didn't initially know what to expect.

Browse inside the book for a taste of "Obsession" or find out more about the book here. Thank-you to HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

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