First published pseudonymously in 1966, Templeton's first novel was banned in England for its sexual content and found an underground following when it was picked up by the notorious Olympia Press two years later. Templeton (The Darts of Cupid) offers a compelling portrait of a woman in postwar London who falls into a submissive relationship. Louisa is the soon-to-be-divorced 28-year-old narrator who gets picked up at a pub by an imperious stranger. She isn't sure how she feels about this enigmatic, chilly, inquisitive man who shows little emotion and forgoes conventional courtship rituals, taking her to his back garden and—to her unexpected pleasure—summarily ravishing her. The stranger turns out to be—what else?—a psychiatrist, Richard Gordon, who continues to anticipate Louisa's thoughts and erotic needs. Gordon has increasingly rough sex with Louisa, holding her in his erotic thrall while remaining aloof throughout the affair. Louisa is entranced with his effect on her and increasingly obsessed with him. The unlikely erotic interludes are intriguing, and Templeton adds a delicious bit of comedy when Gordon and Louisa attend a dinner party as a couple. The idea of a coldly omniscient psychiatrist feels dated, and some of Gordon's psychoanalytic observations are bound to strike readers as unintentionally parodic; he virtually reads Louisa's mind and endlessly prompts her with his impassive "go on." Louisa's predicament, however, is believable and captivating. Templeton's study of submission is psychologically acute, and she brings the couple's oblique power struggle to a fascinating climax. (Mar.)
Forecast:Templeton's story collection The Darts of Cupid (2002) was nominated for an NBCC award, which should give this novel a boost.
Release date: 03/01/2003