REVIEW: The Veiled Woman by Anais Nin

Ooh Anais Nin is a little bit saucy isn’t she.

I’ve never really read erotic fiction. When Fifty Shades of Grey and whatever the other two books are called came out, both my daughters read them but said I wasn’t allowed to.

I pointed out to both of them that I had actually had sex before and they said it wasn’t because of the content, it was because they were badly written and they would not put up with my moaning about them if they lent them to me.

So that was the end of that and I never did read them.

But Anais Nin ( or Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell to use her excessive full name) is number six in the Penguin Modern Classics boxed set and there was no perceivable danger of it being badly written given that Nin is hailed as one of the greatest writers of erotic fiction ever.

This slim volume, running to just 56 pages, includes the stories The Veiled Woman, Linda, Mandra and Marianne.

I like Nin’s characterisation. Effortlessly and quickly her characters grow from the page and you learn what makes them tick.

There is lots of sex but this isn’t wham, bam, thank you mam smut, it’s more sensual than that.

These stories were written in the 1940s I believe for a ‘collector’ and they weren’t published until the 1970s. I am curious to know how many outlets for women’s erotic fiction there were in the 1940s. I can’t see these stories being mainstream then.

But obviously after the sexual revolution of the 1960s there was more demand for erotic fiction from a woman’s perspective.

The stories in this volume are beautifully written, explicit but character-led, lyrical and interesting. I enjoyed all four but particularly liked Mandra and Miriam in Mandra and Marianne.

I’d like to read some of Anais Nin’s journals, apparently she was a very complicated woman.

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