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At the age of twenty-seven, after many years of having (and, for the most part, enjoying) an active sex life, French author, journalist, editor, and fashion blogger Sophie Fontanel decided she wanted to take a break. Despite having it all—a glamorous job, plenty of dates and boyfriends, stylish clothes, and endless parties to attend—she still wasn’t happy, and found hersel At the age of twenty-seven, after many years of having (and, for the most part, enjoying) an active sex life, French author, journalist, editor, and fashion blogger Sophie Fontanel decided she wanted to take a break. Despite having it all—a glamorous job, plenty of dates and boyfriends, stylish clothes, and endless parties to attend—she still wasn’t happy, and found herself wanting more. She chose to give up her sex life, and in so doing shocked all of her friends and colleagues. What she discovers about herself is truly liberating and raises a number of questions about the expectations of the society in which we live. As she experiences being the only non-coupled one at dinner parties, weekend getaways, and summer vacations, she muses inspiringly on what it means to find hap­piness and fulfillment alone.


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At the age of twenty-seven, after many years of having (and, for the most part, enjoying) an active sex life, French author, journalist, editor, and fashion blogger Sophie Fontanel decided she wanted to take a break. Despite having it all—a glamorous job, plenty of dates and boyfriends, stylish clothes, and endless parties to attend—she still wasn’t happy, and found hersel At the age of twenty-seven, after many years of having (and, for the most part, enjoying) an active sex life, French author, journalist, editor, and fashion blogger Sophie Fontanel decided she wanted to take a break. Despite having it all—a glamorous job, plenty of dates and boyfriends, stylish clothes, and endless parties to attend—she still wasn’t happy, and found herself wanting more. She chose to give up her sex life, and in so doing shocked all of her friends and colleagues. What she discovers about herself is truly liberating and raises a number of questions about the expectations of the society in which we live. As she experiences being the only non-coupled one at dinner parties, weekend getaways, and summer vacations, she muses inspiringly on what it means to find hap­piness and fulfillment alone.

30 review for The Art of Sleeping Alone: Why One French Woman Suddenly Gave Up Sex

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    This is the first book translated into English by this French writer, and I thought it was a lovely little collection of moments that captured the author's self-imposed period of sexual inactivity. The moments give us hints into what the she thought and felt, and if you're clever, you can suss out what happens. Personally, I liked that she never spells things out completely, because she gives the reader some credit for being intelligent and makes you work a little for the story. I finished this This is the first book translated into English by this French writer, and I thought it was a lovely little collection of moments that captured the author's self-imposed period of sexual inactivity. The moments give us hints into what the she thought and felt, and if you're clever, you can suss out what happens. Personally, I liked that she never spells things out completely, because she gives the reader some credit for being intelligent and makes you work a little for the story. I finished this book and then skimmed the other reviews to see what people thought of it... and I'm pretty frustrated that most North American readers seem to have entirely missed the point of it. Many readers have characterized it as "selfish" and "egotistical" and about nothing. I just wanted to make a couple points. One: the author was raped when she was 13. I don't know if thats clear to readers, but that little story at the beginning about the Mexican tourist is the story of her rape. The rest of the book is about the author's attempt to finally figure out how to take care of herself and recover from this terrible childhood trauma. There is nothing selfish about self-care. Yes, she goes on extravagant trips and she's clearly got cash. Don't be jealous. Two: the English publishers of this book are obviously kind of terrible at marketing and assigning misleading titles. This is not one of those "project" books about cooking 100 recipes or getting happier in a year. Please don't start this book and expect a how-to feel better about being single. This is a memoir about self-imposed celibacy after experiencing trauma. The author is French and it requires close reading. You've been warned. Lastly: I wouldn't read this book if you've got strict ideas about morality and relationships. You'll get your panties in a twist.

  2. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    Although this book is about living for some time without sex, the way other people react to it makes me think the reaction could apply to doing also some other things differently, or just refusing to do it - like not-drinking, for example. This book has been a bestseller in France; it takes a look on what the impact of it was for her, and there's many observations relating to love and sex from her, in these stories. The author decided to take a break from having sex (and because of that, also rel Although this book is about living for some time without sex, the way other people react to it makes me think the reaction could apply to doing also some other things differently, or just refusing to do it - like not-drinking, for example. This book has been a bestseller in France; it takes a look on what the impact of it was for her, and there's many observations relating to love and sex from her, in these stories. The author decided to take a break from having sex (and because of that, also relationships) for a while, mostly because her body seemed to want to reject intimacy... and I think it's also partly due to what her first time was like (at 13, and he knew, and I don't think it was consensual enough to be nothing but rape, even if she doesn't say it's like that). The break was of great benefit for her, both mentally and physically - she could get a good view of it from the 'outside', see the positive and negative of it in the lives of strangers and friends (and friends' relationship storms). She also had lavender milk baths and massages in Goa, sleeping in a comfy way with a good pillow, taking part in a Sahara rally, and doing yoga. She read "Night Flight" (which I've wanted to read again) and watched a film with Robert Redford seeming to break the fourth wall *grins* I don't know what I would've done if I'd come across a Hermès wallet, or would I get rid of all my books (I think she had less than me though, so her move of them was easily easier haha). The Vietnamese restaurant scene was in my opinion the funniest scene in this book... She does find a good man at just the right moment, when she's starting to feel ready to get back to dating (and bed-sharing) life, and I feel happy for her. This taking-a-break was clearly good for her, a way of adjusting her life before starting again, in a better way. Although this book's subject was sex life and being without it for a while, it did make me think of how being different from others, even for a while, can bring up how much others do expect certain 'rules' from you, yet you can do your own thing, and find value and insight from it. Much deeper stuff than it can seem at first.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Madame Fontanel's latest book has been badly misrepresented by its translation. This is not a book that celebrates being alone. This is a book about envying those that are in partnerships--hence "L'Envie" the original title. It's too bad, because I was looking for something that finally, FINALLY, appreciates the beauty of being single. Mme. F. briefly touches on a few of those things, the moments of being surrounded by children who love on you, able to connect with them because of your lightne Madame Fontanel's latest book has been badly misrepresented by its translation. This is not a book that celebrates being alone. This is a book about envying those that are in partnerships--hence "L'Envie" the original title. It's too bad, because I was looking for something that finally, FINALLY, appreciates the beauty of being single. Mme. F. briefly touches on a few of those things, the moments of being surrounded by children who love on you, able to connect with them because of your lightness. Or the ability to live on the fringes, to be free, invited to travel because of your flexibility. But then, she rejects two of the best parts of being alone. She gives up reading--"I'd piled my books up and taken them down to the garbage. Their contents served no purpose. All they did was tell stories." And she refuses yoga, "The movements to be performed, however, were admirable. The simple action of standing still and dropping your chin while exhaling washed you clean of ugliness...No, this discipline was not for me. I had already explored all the solitary pleasures." I don't believe that she has fully explored solitary pleasures--I do not hear any joy in these pages. Madame Fontanel makes a bold start, but ultimately she portrays singlehood as melancholic and tragic. (Yes, she's French, she can't help it.) Yet I wish she had been a better ambassador.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Olivera

    This is one of those where I think that I need to give it a reread just so I can appreciate the language properly. Fontanel writes in a very sophisticated way and I have to admit that her use of words challenged my English at times. But, the reading experience was a pleasure anyways and all the praise goes to the translator as well. Content wise, I liked what I read. While not everything the author said was something I could agree on, I enjoyed a lot of points she brings to the table. When it co This is one of those where I think that I need to give it a reread just so I can appreciate the language properly. Fontanel writes in a very sophisticated way and I have to admit that her use of words challenged my English at times. But, the reading experience was a pleasure anyways and all the praise goes to the translator as well. Content wise, I liked what I read. While not everything the author said was something I could agree on, I enjoyed a lot of points she brings to the table. When it comes to recommendations, I think this memoir requires a specific kind of audience in order to be enjoyed, and I'm not sure I can judge who fits into that category. I found it to be refreshing, and if you, judging by the blurb, think that this is something you would be interested in, you should give it a shot. I'm counting this for the Around the World in 80 Books challenge as a book set in France.

  5. 5 out of 5

    kippen (uponthepages)

    I really loved the idea of this book from just reading the title and the description. Not to mention, the cover! It's so cute. But while reading it, I feel like the writing style was just too much for me? I wanted something much more straight forward which you don't get while reading this. Not only that, but sometimes she came off kind of offensive which I didn't get offended by personally but some other people might. While the premise was fantastic because she did focus on how she went without I really loved the idea of this book from just reading the title and the description. Not to mention, the cover! It's so cute. But while reading it, I feel like the writing style was just too much for me? I wanted something much more straight forward which you don't get while reading this. Not only that, but sometimes she came off kind of offensive which I didn't get offended by personally but some other people might. While the premise was fantastic because she did focus on how she went without sex because she felt almost suffocated by the men in her life, it felt lost near the end of the book. The book is very short (like 150 pages?) but she walked the line most of the book. I got bored and kind of confused through out it because she would tell stories that kind of related but not really?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maria Menozzi

    This is well-written but left me feeling lonelier than I thought I was at all. First of all, it is rather annoying to read about narrators who have such vapid, superficial friends, especially the whole couples scene. About half way through this memoir, I wanted to scream to the narrator, not having sex is not the problem, your friends make you feel lonely and odd. While one may read this and think this is something unusual, brave and original, it is not. I hate to break the news to this memoiris This is well-written but left me feeling lonelier than I thought I was at all. First of all, it is rather annoying to read about narrators who have such vapid, superficial friends, especially the whole couples scene. About half way through this memoir, I wanted to scream to the narrator, not having sex is not the problem, your friends make you feel lonely and odd. While one may read this and think this is something unusual, brave and original, it is not. I hate to break the news to this memoirist, but most of the women I know who are single, including myself, know that it is not about having sex that is the problem in our lives. It is the lack of truly emotionally mature, responsible, adult male companionship that is wanting. Sex is easy if you want it, relationship is not. I believe the premise behind the tome could have been much more engaging and memorable had the writer chose to draw us in with more of an honest look at why she would choose celibacy consciously. I do not mean emoting for the sake of gory details. I just would have liked more poignancy to her story beyond a few glimpses into past exploits that neither explained nor offered an underlying motive for her choice. I literally read this in one sitting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A formerly insatiable woman eventually finds her way out of impotence (and, from what I can tell, a series of bad relationships) by sleeping with someone else's husband. I was irritated beyond reason for most of this (thankfully short) book, maybe because at an age when apparent impotence should be approached and pondered with wisdom and reason and some self-confidence, I was getting more of a girlish, sex-obsessed, self-absorbed twat vibe. On the other hand, it was interesting enough that I rea A formerly insatiable woman eventually finds her way out of impotence (and, from what I can tell, a series of bad relationships) by sleeping with someone else's husband. I was irritated beyond reason for most of this (thankfully short) book, maybe because at an age when apparent impotence should be approached and pondered with wisdom and reason and some self-confidence, I was getting more of a girlish, sex-obsessed, self-absorbed twat vibe. On the other hand, it was interesting enough that I read the whole thing. And now, having done so, I'm just mad.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ylenia

    This was honestly the most boring and pointless book I've read in a long time. There's no explanation on "why one french woman suddenly gave up sex" other than the one provided in the first 10 pages - then it turned into a bunch of short episodes about her friends and random people in Paris. I don't understand why the publisher decided to change the title since in French it definitely made more sense (L'Envie)? This was honestly the most boring and pointless book I've read in a long time. There's no explanation on "why one french woman suddenly gave up sex" other than the one provided in the first 10 pages - then it turned into a bunch of short episodes about her friends and random people in Paris. I don't understand why the publisher decided to change the title since in French it definitely made more sense (L'Envie)?

  9. 5 out of 5

    ~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells

    This is a fascinating quick read if you are behind on your challenge. I sure enjoyed it and hope to find more books by Sophie Fontanel. I had also hoped to do lots of quiz questions for the book but had a headache all day so not up to that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    I thought this was going to be a tawdry memoir or one those those French women do it better books on not having sex. Instead the book is series of philosophical introspective abstract vignettes from her years of "sleeping alone". At first I found the author annoying because it was so obvious she needed a break from men because early on her life she created a template for relating in men in a submissive and unhealthy manner. But after I got over that I started to enjoy her commentary on her life I thought this was going to be a tawdry memoir or one those those French women do it better books on not having sex. Instead the book is series of philosophical introspective abstract vignettes from her years of "sleeping alone". At first I found the author annoying because it was so obvious she needed a break from men because early on her life she created a template for relating in men in a submissive and unhealthy manner. But after I got over that I started to enjoy her commentary on her life and how it affected those around her. Quick read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie Diana

    An ideal read for anyone who has chosen to do things a little differently A few of my favourite quotes: I discovered that men have few people to whom they can open their hearts. That they’re poorer than we are. Their feelings, when they have to swallow them like pride, turn into gags. I saw art as a refuge and planned to live in it with my books, good films, music. I had just learned that one great loneliness always knows how to speak to another one. I can testify that one can feel pain fr An ideal read for anyone who has chosen to do things a little differently A few of my favourite quotes: I discovered that men have few people to whom they can open their hearts. That they’re poorer than we are. Their feelings, when they have to swallow them like pride, turn into gags. I saw art as a refuge and planned to live in it with my books, good films, music. I had just learned that one great loneliness always knows how to speak to another one. I can testify that one can feel pain from love without feeling any love.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Henry Le Nav

    Disappointing. I don't think her experience is all that terribly unusual. Many people go through periods of abstention, usually not as long, and usually not self enforced. (view spoiler)[ Her story struck me as though she grew weary of and her body rejected being used by men who did not love her but found her a convenient lover. I believe that she was tired of being an appliance. I can understand her desire to get away from that situation, in fact I think it was noble of her to do so. If a situa Disappointing. I don't think her experience is all that terribly unusual. Many people go through periods of abstention, usually not as long, and usually not self enforced. (view spoiler)[ Her story struck me as though she grew weary of and her body rejected being used by men who did not love her but found her a convenient lover. I believe that she was tired of being an appliance. I can understand her desire to get away from that situation, in fact I think it was noble of her to do so. If a situation is not fulfilling one's happiness then they should endeavor to change. Take a vacation from men, and leave loveless sex forever. But then it struck me that rather than trying to find a meaningful loving relationship, she just seemed to take much smug satisfaction at being the odd woman out and watching her friends scramble to fix her life, while their own were so obviously full of faults. So after quite some period of time she began to feel "insinuating vibrations" and the book ends with her starting an affair with a married man. Perhaps all she wants from life are on and off periods of loveless sex. It struck me that she wasted her sexual prime trying to prove some point to herself and her friends, but in the end what ever that point was, she didn't seem to learn it very well. (hide spoiler)] This book was very short, possibly thankfully so. It is divided up into short vignettes that I invariably found were just starting to get interesting and I would flip the page to find that it ended two or three sentences later. It seemed to be written with some artsy Victorian modesty that implied much but told very little. I found the prose too flowery and vague. Its not 1850, so there is no need to appeal to the delicate sensibilities regarding subjects not suitable for mixed company. My biggest disappointment with this book was that I was hoping to learn something and it didn't happen. I spent my teens and early 20s mostly in a state of celibate longing for love and intertwined with that love, sexual intimacy. When I found it, I regretted the time that was squandered. I didn't like sleeping alone, and I was hoping for something that would shed a positive light on her experience. If there was a lesson in the human condition to be had here, it went over my head.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine (DarlingBibliophile)

    To be quite honest, this was terrible? I don't know if it was just a bad translation, or a bad memoir but it was so hard to read. I forced myself to finish the last few chapters just so that I could see if it got any better. I was excited about the premise but I was very disappointed. To be quite honest, this was terrible? I don't know if it was just a bad translation, or a bad memoir but it was so hard to read. I forced myself to finish the last few chapters just so that I could see if it got any better. I was excited about the premise but I was very disappointed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marie Bee

    I love the premise of this book (Sophie Fontanel presents a series of short anecdotes regarding her years as a celibate woman in Paris), but I wonder if there isn't something essential that is lost in translation somehow. The language is convoluted and overdone, to the point that many sentences remained incomprehensible even after careful scrutiny and consideration. And not in a poetical way. Her material has a lot of potential, but this book has no form or coherence of theme. It could have been I love the premise of this book (Sophie Fontanel presents a series of short anecdotes regarding her years as a celibate woman in Paris), but I wonder if there isn't something essential that is lost in translation somehow. The language is convoluted and overdone, to the point that many sentences remained incomprehensible even after careful scrutiny and consideration. And not in a poetical way. Her material has a lot of potential, but this book has no form or coherence of theme. It could have been so much better!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melody Daggerhart

    I'm not sure what I was expecting when I selected this book. I guess I assumed it was a single woman's "survival guide" on break-ups. It is not. Instead, it is a soft-spoken, short, delightful collection of philosophical musings about the emphasis society puts on sex and celibacy. It is also a wonderfully empowering book in terms of celebrating "self". To paraphrase the author, all that love you've been pouring into someone else can now be turned inward. So, while it is not a guide to being happ I'm not sure what I was expecting when I selected this book. I guess I assumed it was a single woman's "survival guide" on break-ups. It is not. Instead, it is a soft-spoken, short, delightful collection of philosophical musings about the emphasis society puts on sex and celibacy. It is also a wonderfully empowering book in terms of celebrating "self". To paraphrase the author, all that love you've been pouring into someone else can now be turned inward. So, while it is not a guide to being happy as a single woman, it is an inspiring reflection on the self-empowerment that is possible as a single woman. I like that this book tackled a subject that no one talks about. At a time when society is just beginning to embrace many non-traditional sexual relationships, it is still not socially okay to not have sexual relationships. Single women are "preyed upon" while young and attractive, then nagged by well-meaning friends and family who expect them to have children, and are finally pitied as spinsters if they reach a certain age and don't belong to a man. (And the pressure to keep up a social reputation for sexual prowess and conquest is prominent for men, too, though in different ways.) Society still largely believes that women are incomplete without husbands and children. Fontanel offers her own experiences for a different perspective. Most of what she had to say either related to some of my own experiences, or experiences of people I know. So, I'm glad she had the courage to share her thoughts and experiences. The paradoxes she brings up resonate with more women (and possibly men) than pop-culture and traditional culture wish to admit. Don't read this book expecting a step-by-step how-to guide on emotional healing after a bad relationship. Do read this book if you're looking for a gentle reminder that happiness is something that must be found within yourself, rather than expecting someone else to make you happy. Do give this book a chance if you find yourself wondering why something personal like sex has such social importance, or if you find yourself wondering if there is more to life than hunting for and maintaining sexual relationships.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jafar

    The New York Times reviewed a bunch of books that may induce heavy breathing while reading for the 40th anniversary of Fear of Flying. This memoir was thrown into the mix – to provide some contrast, I guess. This book reminded of another memoir by another French woman, but in the opposite extreme: The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Thankfully, this book wasn’t as awful as that one. Fontanel doesn’t really say why she made this decision more than “I was through with being had.” If that’s how you thi The New York Times reviewed a bunch of books that may induce heavy breathing while reading for the 40th anniversary of Fear of Flying. This memoir was thrown into the mix – to provide some contrast, I guess. This book reminded of another memoir by another French woman, but in the opposite extreme: The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Thankfully, this book wasn’t as awful as that one. Fontanel doesn’t really say why she made this decision more than “I was through with being had.” If that’s how you think about sex, then yes, you should avoid it. She then proceeds to describe the reactions of others and her own thoughts and feelings through narrating various episodes of her life. Towards the end she started reminding me of the character of Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal: someone so deprived of not just sex but any kind of physical closeness with another human being that even a simple touch can set off all sorts of thoughts and emotions for her. In the end, the book is rather dull and pointless, and not to be unduly harsh, but I also found her a tad pretentious and smug. I enjoyed her writing, however.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carissa

    What this book is not: a single girl's kicky how-to guide on washing that man right out of your hair. Instead, Sophie Fontanel offers a thoughtful series of vignettes about stepping out of the dating game. I loved the quiet, interior tone of the book, the impressionistic glimpses into what ended up being twelve years of celibacy. Her attitude of fairly constant wonder won me over. Loved her reflections on the surprising dance between men and women -- the things we take for granted in each other - What this book is not: a single girl's kicky how-to guide on washing that man right out of your hair. Instead, Sophie Fontanel offers a thoughtful series of vignettes about stepping out of the dating game. I loved the quiet, interior tone of the book, the impressionistic glimpses into what ended up being twelve years of celibacy. Her attitude of fairly constant wonder won me over. Loved her reflections on the surprising dance between men and women -- the things we take for granted in each other -- and the things we discover when we get out of the conversation. This book probably is a bit of a stretch for a general American audience (we like our "how to" books to be full of specific advice, with bullet points and call-out boxes). This is not that book. But still -- tender, thought-provoking and enjoyable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Lam

    I may be leaning higher on the rating with this one (the translation can be rough at certain passages, so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt) but I generally liked this book because it was a) a very fast read - there's very little extra fat, b) a topic that is not often discussed, c) written in a very calming tone that helps spotlight the absurdity of society's reactions toward celibacy. It's a book as much about her struggle with intimacy and the sense of her body as it is about the quiet b I may be leaning higher on the rating with this one (the translation can be rough at certain passages, so I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt) but I generally liked this book because it was a) a very fast read - there's very little extra fat, b) a topic that is not often discussed, c) written in a very calming tone that helps spotlight the absurdity of society's reactions toward celibacy. It's a book as much about her struggle with intimacy and the sense of her body as it is about the quiet but vibrating discomfort one creates when one differs from the norm.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    **I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway.** What could have been an insightful look into the pros and cons of life as a singleton is actually an insipid, narcissistic memoir. It is also odd that in some places Fontanel seems to be attacking her fellow celibates while simultaneously claiming to champion them. To be fair she does pose an interesting thought once in a while, but those points are lost in a sea of self-aggrandizement.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    Seriously lovely writing. I ate this one up. Although I expected this to be more in the vein of a self help/motivational book the language was as rich as beautiful fiction and I really enjoyed reading the authors story. There was a lot of poeticism but maybe not as much self examination or introspection as I personally hoped for. Extremely enjoyable never the less.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    There's a lot of hating on this book here and I'm not sure why. I thought it was well written, engaging and relatable. I might have preferred more "meat" to it, but it was an easy way to pass the time while traveling. There's a lot of hating on this book here and I'm not sure why. I thought it was well written, engaging and relatable. I might have preferred more "meat" to it, but it was an easy way to pass the time while traveling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    V

    There are some gorgeous passages, and brilliant thoughts. Sadly, these are few and far between among the rest of a book that never really comes together into a coherent whole. Not what I was expecting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Too self-indulgent and precious for me. My heart broke for her as she revealed her first awful encounter but she needs to work this out with a therapist not her readers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Myrto

    (3.5)I definitely expected for some more insight from her,but still a great read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anastasiya Mozgovaya

    full of rare and raw thoughts about sexuality and sexual desire.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    Sophie is raped when she is 13 years old. A man lures her into his room and refuses to let her out again until he's slept with her. Rape for a child is a terrible thing, it sexualises them, it often makes them promiscuous. Sophie grows up to become relatively promiscuous. Fortunately or unfortunately, Sophie is capable of listening to her body. It starts to reject men and her mind refuses to see men noticing her. She becomes aware, a little like the film "The Lobster", that she neither wants a re Sophie is raped when she is 13 years old. A man lures her into his room and refuses to let her out again until he's slept with her. Rape for a child is a terrible thing, it sexualises them, it often makes them promiscuous. Sophie grows up to become relatively promiscuous. Fortunately or unfortunately, Sophie is capable of listening to her body. It starts to reject men and her mind refuses to see men noticing her. She becomes aware, a little like the film "The Lobster", that she neither wants a relationship nor casual sex. She has become "touched out", which is what mother's of tiny children often feel, except Sophie has no children, she has simply been touched without either consideration, love or kindness by too many lovers. The chapters in this book are very short, they are snippets of conversations or moments spent with friends, family or lovers. They are neither detailed nor revealing. For someone writing about sexuality they are often very modest. Apparently this way of writing is seen as self absorbed and dull, but I think it reflects her own fragmented, amorphous state. I think this is a clever book because it is subtle. I didn't feel drawn in deeply because and so it took some time to finish this very short book, but I was relieved by it. The sense of withdrawing from societies need to be sexual is something I relate to. Please don't go buy/request this book if you want a fix-it. Read the quiet, slow and careful move towards healing instead. Think about the relationships she does comment on, we see them everywhere, right? people married because to separate is expensive, will impact the kids, is lonely. To choose to be removed from it is difficult, but it is also brave in a world where couples and families rule.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    The subtitle of this book implies the author will make clear to the reader both her motivations for giving up sex and what lessons she learned in the process, and having now read it I would argue that the lie detector test determined that was a lie. If I hadn’t known what it was about before reading it (thanks to the title and my darling friend who lent me her copy) I wouldn’t have had any idea that the author went on a self-imposed celibacy kick. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed reading it, The subtitle of this book implies the author will make clear to the reader both her motivations for giving up sex and what lessons she learned in the process, and having now read it I would argue that the lie detector test determined that was a lie. If I hadn’t known what it was about before reading it (thanks to the title and my darling friend who lent me her copy) I wouldn’t have had any idea that the author went on a self-imposed celibacy kick. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed reading it, even if it felt more like vague diary entries than a coherent narrative, but I still don’t fully understand Fontanel’s intentions behind her decision, nor do any of the vignettes really have all that much to do with it, beyond observing other people’s struggles with their sex lives. There was one recollection that was particularly moving, about a man whose wife stops touching him entirely except to occasionally remove a stray thread from his sweater, so he starts placing errant threads on himself in the hopes that she’ll put a hand on him. Otherwise, and this may be a fault of the translation, the language felt very difficult to dive into, very austere and excessively literary. I’m curious how it read in French.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Schemehorn

    A memoir of a woman who, nearing 30, makes the conscious decision to become celibate. That's it. That's the story. I may have been expecting else: a recounting of her sexual past and whether or not she is happy, a journey of self discovery, a treatise of social reliance on romantic partnerships. It was none of those. It was a handful of stories about herself, and friends of hers and their relationships. Again, that's it. Another note: during this period of celibacy, Fontanel does go on dates, in A memoir of a woman who, nearing 30, makes the conscious decision to become celibate. That's it. That's the story. I may have been expecting else: a recounting of her sexual past and whether or not she is happy, a journey of self discovery, a treatise of social reliance on romantic partnerships. It was none of those. It was a handful of stories about herself, and friends of hers and their relationships. Again, that's it. Another note: during this period of celibacy, Fontanel does go on dates, including make-outs and PDA. I'm not saying that a celibate person cannot get physical, but her descriptions --and general idea--of what sex is to her is pretty hetero- penetrative. Again, it's a personal memoir, so I get it; I did want to make sure the reader was aware of that going in (I swear, no pun intended).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandrina Maçãs

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Read the version in Portuguese. First didn't like the way was written, I have read many strange books but this one didn't win me. It wasn't what I expected and for me, it ends up being a book about stories put together but not connected except for the main character is present in all of them. I got the feeling that she tried too much to justify everything, that she had many encounters before with too many descriptions, that many of her friends tried to get her back to what society thinks is "norma Read the version in Portuguese. First didn't like the way was written, I have read many strange books but this one didn't win me. It wasn't what I expected and for me, it ends up being a book about stories put together but not connected except for the main character is present in all of them. I got the feeling that she tried too much to justify everything, that she had many encounters before with too many descriptions, that many of her friends tried to get her back to what society thinks is "normal", and many other things, instead of a more personal, intellectual and growth perspective during that time, with a bit of comparison what society thinks to be normal and when we chose to go against it and also with other cultures, plus what changed in her life.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I am studying French, and am always looking for some sort of glimpse into their culture. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this memoir reveals them to be very amorous. More so than we Americans, but not in any way that would be totally foreign to us. As I too am celebite, Sophie's anecdotes are familiar to me. Confessing my lack of sex-life will also be met with confusion, and will ALWAYS prompt some unsolicited over-sharing. I feel like Sophie handles it with more grace than I do, but perhaps not as I ha I am studying French, and am always looking for some sort of glimpse into their culture. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this memoir reveals them to be very amorous. More so than we Americans, but not in any way that would be totally foreign to us. As I too am celebite, Sophie's anecdotes are familiar to me. Confessing my lack of sex-life will also be met with confusion, and will ALWAYS prompt some unsolicited over-sharing. I feel like Sophie handles it with more grace than I do, but perhaps not as I haven't written about it. It's over all brief and a little disorganized, but still I'd recommend it to anyone who simply doesn't have sex, as a variety of perspectives are welcomed.

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