15 Followers
15 Following
intrepidheroine

Our Intrepid Heroine

I'm a multitasking, knitting, cooking, voraciously-reading library worker who wants to spread her bibliomania as far as possible.

Currently reading

Ash and Silver: A Sanctuary Novel
Carol Berg
The Sleeping Partner
Madeleine E. Robins
Kraken
China Mieville

Smut: Two Unseemly Stories

Smut - Alan Bennett I had problems with this book.

I like Alan Bennett. An Uncommon Reader is probably my favorite novella, as it is charming and fun while also pondering over the usefulness of reading. I read a clever and interesting excerpt of this book before picking it up, so I expected it to be amusing. Instead, I was left completely befuddled by the main female characters. Mr. Bennett never actually explained why any of the women acted the way they did.

In the first novella, The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, the titular Mrs. Donaldson takes in lodgers to help pay the rent, and when the lodgers don't pay the rent, she accepts the "alternative payment" they offer. Which is watching them have sex. I'm... not sure why she did this. It didn't pay the rent, she felt kind of weird about it, and then she wanted to avoid marrying again because it would definitely cut into her time watching her teenaged lodgers have sex in lieu of rent. Had this been set up as a kink thing, maybe I would have bought it, but it was just kind of halfhearted and bizarre.

In The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, which is less about Mrs. Forbes than the younger Mr. Forbes, her son, sometimes homosexual and full-time egoist, who marries Betty, an unattractive, clever, rich lady, for her money. Why she marries him, though, is less clear. Perhaps this is supposed to be self-apparent (Mr. Graham Forbes is an attractive man), but he never pretends to love Betty. He makes it very obvious that he wants her money. She seems to appreciate their more or less fulfilling sex life, but the actual marriage part confused me.

Betty is a sweet, subservient, vacant type. Had Betty married Graham for his money, I would have understood her behavior. However, as an heiress in her own right, it seemed very strange that she pretended to be dim, let her husband tell her not to work, and quietly fixed his problems for him without him knowing. It is made apparent that she is extremely clever, and at one point, her father-in-law wonders what in the world she's doing married to his self-absorbed, dim-witted son.

My sentiments exactly.

Perhaps I've just never felt the compunction to keep a man by playing the idiot, but it seems to me that a woman in possession of a large fortune, a successful Internet business, and a well-tuned brain who doesn't seem to be head over heels for her husband (regardless of his fondness for rent boys) could probably do better. So why wouldn't she?


Betty Forbes spends the entire story settling for less with absolutely no textual clues to explain. Between Betty and the unsatisfactory case of Mrs. Donaldson, the uncomfortable and unconvincing voyeur, I would like a few hours of my life back, please.