The Juliette Society by Sasha Grey
Pleasure Panel review by Bella Orion
Thank you so much to Bella Orion (follow on Twitter) for this guest review of The Juliette Society by Sasha Grey, an erotic novel by the former porn star. You can also find The Juliette Society here at Amazon UK and here at Amazon.com.
This book was originally provided free of charge in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. I received it from the publisher, Sphere, an offshoot of Little Brown books.
“Never has a first novel come with so much experience. Between the ages of 18 and 21, Sasha Grey was one of the most successful stars of the Hollywood porn industry. Since she left the adult movie world three years ago, Sasha has gone on to star in Entourage and Stephen Soderberg’s film The Girlfriend Experience.
In her debut erotic novel, Sasha Grey takes us inside a private, high-profile, sex society where anything and everything can happen. It’s authentic, empowered, blisteringly intense and clearly written by a woman in control of her sexuality. ”
– Cara Sutra
The Juliette Society by Sasha Grey
For a book that promises to tell the tale of a secret sexual underworld to the elite, I was looking forward to tucking into a juicy piece of erotica. What I got instead was a conflicting story about a young woman trying to find herself sexually and in the book’s entirety, perhaps less than a chapter actually spoke of the illicit society on which it was supposed to be based upon.
After the success of 50 Shades of Grey, the market for all things kinky – from sex toy websites, to erotica, and even the hoards of fly by night wanna be dominatrices entering the scene – has become overtly saturated with many people jumping on the band wagon trying to cash in. And that is what it seems Grey has done here. With her impressive background in the adult industry, she’s managed to make the rare transition from porn star to bona fide actress so its natural to assume that she has drawn on some of her professional experiences. Yet it also seems her PR machine made the assumption that her background in in the sexual arena will make this a noteworthy read.
The story is based around a young, if not somewhat naïve college girl Catherine who is bent on exploring her sexuality. Meeting free spirited Anna in her film class, she begins following in her footsteps, trying to emulate her ethereal sexuality. In addition to dressing like her and fantasising about the two of them having sex with her boyfriend – a loving but somewhat lacking relationship – she also begins following Anna on her wild debauched exploits.
The writing style of the book flits between a well written erudite tome which wants desperately to take itself seriously to a more gritty urban tale with the premise of keeping it’s street cred, with an emphasis on the latter. The two just don’t mix. If it were written one way or the other perhaps it would have been easier to stomach but what we are presented with what feels more like the manuscript of a young woman talking to her guilty conscience than the literary gem it pretends to be. But, unlike 50 Shades of Grey, which I put down after two chapters, I read the book in its entirety for two reasons. Firstly to give it an honest review and secondly, in the hope that it would come clean in the wash.
Despite the lack of plot or plausible characters there were a few sub-plots I found interesting. Anna’s “after school job” as a submissive porn actress was an interesting portrayal of a growing number of college girls who become adult service providers to cover their tuition – women who work on line as cam girls or in porn are rarely spoken about in the every day world. Additionally, the sleazy Bundy who makes his money from taking advantage of vulnerable women by plying them with alcohol and instantly uploading the shots of them performing sex acts on him added some minor comic relief. Both are likely scenarios Grey may have been exposed to in her every day work life so she gives us a small glimpse of the sub-culture of this psycho-sexual world.
But the further I got through this book, the more frustrated I got. It was worse than being on a first date expecting to wake up with a glow the next morning but instead being dropped off with a peck on the cheek. For all its promises of the secret existence where the crème de la crème got their rocks off, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her to introduce us to the illustrious Juliette Society. Yes, at times this book can be explicit in its descriptions of role play, submission, threesomes, anal sex and politics. But for all its talk of fantasy, kink and the Fuck Factory (a dank, mainly male cess pool of a sex club) it never really got to the point. That is until the penultimate chapter when I had already lost all hope in this story as well as the will to live.
As a Hollywood porn star, she has been successful and prolific from a young age and for that I salute her. Perhaps at the age of 21, the author lacks the experience – both as a writer and rubbing shoulders amongst the higher echelons of society, to make this book a true success. They say everyone has a book in them, and with all sincerity, I hope this will be her one and only.
Bella Orion is a UK based columnist, glaminatrix and fetish model