The Ages of Lulu

Almudena Grandes, Author, Sonia Soto, Translator
Almudena Grandes, Author, Sonia Soto, Translator Grove Press $18 (216p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1553-9
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-8021-3348-9
Paperback - 238 pages - 978-1-58322-688-9
Hardcover - 228 pages - 978-0-7538-1924-1
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Set in Madrid, this luridly inventive first novel strives to shock but instead proves that a woman's quasi-pornographic erotic fiction can be as mechanical, repetitive, graphic and cerebral as men's contribution to the genre. The story follows the sexual awakening of narrator Lulu, seduced at age 15 by an old family friend, Pablo, who poses as her guardian and then as her father, and who ultimately marries her. Echoes of Sade and The Story of O abound as Lulu has sex with her schoolmistress; enjoys a threesome with Pablo and a transvestite; obsessively beds homosexual men; is blindfolded, tied down and gang-raped; and then is raped by her brother Marcelo. Lulu's struggle to free herself of brutal, alcoholic Pablo's smothering grip, and her fitful concern for her small daughter, Ines, who seems utterly lost and insignificant amid the assorted sexual frenzies, are perfunctory plot elements in an overly busy narrative that reveals an almost fetishistic obsession with sadomasochism, bondage, oral sex, sodomy, depilation, masturbation, voyeurism and so forth. (July)
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