SEDUCTRESS: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love
Prioleau's captivating debut is a fervid self-help tract well-disguised as a history. "Seductresses are in fact the liberated women incarnate," asserts the author in her opening chapter. "They're the stealth heroines of history. The first feminists." It's a persuasive argument, which Prioleau pounds home with massive fists full of quotations, attributions and texts from anthropology, religion, psychology, history, art, literature, music and anything else she can get her hyperintellectual hands on. Modern women have lost their goddess-centered groove, the Manhattan College professor asserts, and as a consequence the entire race is going to hell in a male-dominated, bimbo-focused handbasket. If only women would search their collective unconscious for their archetypal Goddess roots, they'd realize modern feminism has rendered them joyless, and the reality TV/Barbie look-alike trends are hooey. Rather, women of any age (there's a chapter on "silver foxes") or looks (another chapter on "homely sirens") are multiorgasmic, brilliant, joyous power mavens who possess everything to bring a man to his willing knees and keep both genders happy and sated. Telling wonderfully peripatetic tales of self-possessed sirens and seductresses throughout the eons, Prioleau makes a strong case for women to take back their ancestral birthright of sexy wholeness (though the problems of non–middle-class women, like poverty, among others, never enter her worldview). Whether one buys her argument or not, it's wildly engaging reading and faultless scholarship. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Oct. 27)
Forecast:Prioleau could tap into the postfeminist and female baby boomer markets with her "grab it all" angle. The hip and happening presentation primes her book for college classrooms as well.