A glamorous young Frenchwoman, who edits a glamorous French magazine, decides to have a period of celibacy in her life. Her friends are initially impressed... and then the persecution begins.
The Art of Sleeping Alone by Sophie Fontanel (books.simonandschuster.com) is a memoir of a period in one woman's life where she opted out of her friends' most deeply held, conformist expectations. It is subtitled, "Why One French Woman Suddenly Gave Up Sex," so you can see that the basic marketing is: 'Sex - what's not to like, amirite?' But this short book is about more than that.
How does a voluntarily single woman fit into a society of couples without reminding them that there are (and were) other options? How many of your opinions are really your own, and not shaped by what others expect you to say? How many choices have you made in life to please other people?
This book is a fast read, with many little interludes about Fontanel's day - glamorous vacations, challenging blind introductions to potential suitors, awkward confessions from friends, attempts to assert herself to salespeople - while she attempts to feel like her decisions are truly her own.
I believe it sold well - very well in France! - because Fontanel had the right credentials - Frenchness, youth, a high profile position, and authoritative fashionability - to be able to put her choices beyond the reach of lazy, 'sour grapes' criticism.
images and text Copyright © 2014 A. E. Graves, other images copyright of their respective authors
(posted November 29, 2014)
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