Sunday, November 3, 2013
Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland
Fanny Hill, a somewhat wild and uneducated girl, runs away to the big city of London, where she is "assisted" by an unsavory lady who plans to sell her innocence to a disgusting old man. Helpfully, the other girls in the house teach Fanny about the clitoris. Just before consummation of the sale, Fanny encounters the beautiful Charles, who rescues her and sets her up in a private love nest. They enjoy eight months of bliss before Charles is tricked into sailing to the West Indies and disappears. Fanny, however, needs to pay the rent. The rest of the short book (I hesitate to call it a novel) is Fanny’s first person narration of the relationships she contracts with the rich men for money, as well as the dalliances she has with handsome butlers and super endowed homeless guys for free. The story barely has a plot and is basically one sexual tableau after another, illustrating a wide variety of sexual practices. Near the end of the book, Fanny is taking a walk in the park and is able to give the Heimlich maneuver to an old extremely rich guy. Conveniently he dies shortly thereafter, leaving her his fortune, as well as a few financial pointers. As a now rich lady visiting her hometown, who should she encounter but Charles, shipwrecked and impoverished, still smoking hot. The couple reunites, get married and have a ton of kids. And great sex.
I must be a dope because I had no idea this was porn. I thought it was going to be like Moll Flanders. I pulled the book out to read on the plane then put it right back and settled for the inflight magazine. I’m not sure this was a legitimate novel or not. Even though the book was short and entertainingly written, it grew dull to read more than one sex scene at a time. They started to run together. The book is really not much more a collection of highly lyrical descriptions of penises. But Fanny is a legitimate character, spunky and funny. She shares a camaraderie with her girlfriends, many of whom come from (and return to) “respectable” backgrounds.
I’ll never look at Jane Austen the same way again.