Review: The Sex Lives of English Women – Wendy Jones

img_3564Title: The Sex Lives of English Women: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers
Author: Wendy Jones
Publication date: 7 July 2016
Genre: Non-fiction
Buy on Foyles / Buy on Waterstones

Along with Mary Roach’s fascinating look at the science of sex, Bonk, and Alissa Nutting’s Tampa, this book joins my collection of ‘books that make people give you funny looks on public transport’.

English women are typically viewed as quite reserved, rarely talking about what happens behind closed doors (or down the alley by Lidl, as the case may be according to this book…) The Sex Lives of English Women breaks down these barriers. Twenty-four women from all walks of life talk about their sex lives, their bodies, their relationships and their lives as a whole. A ninety-four year old describes how she was ‘an absolute trollop’ when she was a Land Girl. A nun explores the curious mix of guilt and pleasure. A feminist into BDSM describes how submission can be empowering. A shop assistant reveals that she loves her body after having four children.

There is no real conclusion to this book. Each chapter is an uninterrupted stream of consciousness and, with the exception of the introduction, we don’t hear the author’s voice or see her hand in it at all. In some ways, this is the book’s downfall. It leaves you wanting more, desperate for some kind of grand concluding message. But, in reality, these diverse experiences can’t be summed up easily and to try to do so would only belittle them.

At times uncomfortable, at times funny, and at times heartbreaking, this book is, above all, honest.

Recommended soundtrack to your reading: Låpsley – Love is Blind


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