To me, the trouble with the vast majority of erotica is twofold:
(i) the quality of the writing is far more disturbing than anything the protagonists might do to each other, literary merit not usually being the most lasting effect the author hopes to create;
As such, I’m not a huge fan of the genre, often finding it predictable, dull, less believable than the letters to Penthouse Forum, and worst of all, execrably written. It’s not that I don’t like smut, it’s just that I’d much prefer to serendipitously stumble across a nice bit of filth in a novel I am already engaged with, where the characters think and feel, and any slot/tab sightings are integral to the plot.
The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings has the potential to change all that. Natasha Walker’s debut novel is eloquent, measured and articulate, its tone – in surely a first for erotica – both wry and playful. More to the point, it’s dirty enough that Walker adopted a pseudonym to write the book, and readers may feel in need of a shower after finishing it, cold or otherwise.
Emma Benson is a 32 year old housewife, not so much desperate as desperately sensual, in thrall to her own carnal nature and, though she loves her husband, questioning her ability to remain faithful to him after less than a year of marriage.
Salvation comes in the form of 18 year old schoolboy Jason, who literally drops into her lap when she is sunbathing in her backyard one afternoon. Though tall, good looking and an accomplished sportsman, Jason is (surprisingly but conveniently) untutored in the ways of the flesh, something Emma sets out to rectify over the course of the book.
One of The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings’ most impressive achievements in this regard is how Walker establishes the sexual tension between the characters early in chapter one, then not only sustains, but mercilessly ratchets it up, for the remaining 250 or so pages.
After the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY phenomenon, it is refreshing to find a female erotica lead who is older, experienced and very much in touch with her sexuality. Quite deeply in touch, as some scenes reveal, but I digress. More interestingly, Emma, like her Jane Austen namesake, is intelligent, self-assured, forthright, scheming and definitely likes to get involved in the lives of her neighbours. Walker’s occasional asides through Emma’s eyes on the nature of monogamy or Australian politics or the particular private school type peculiar to Sydney’s north shore are witty and subversive, a delight to read.
Still, that’s not why you buy erotica, is it? Perhaps I should just say then that yes, the book is filthy, arousing, and features plenty of tabs and slots, with the two sequels to be released later this year and in 2013 promising even greater levels of depravity. Walker – and Emma – are women to watch. I predict The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings will sell like hot cocks. Sorry, cakes.
Kylie Ladd is a novelist and freelance writer.
Her essays and articles have appeared in The Age, Griffith Review, Etchings, O magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Medicine and Readers Digest, among others.
Follow Kylie on Twitter here
Follow Natasha on Twitter here
The Secret Lives of Emma: DISTRACTIONS
On the outside Emma Benson is a nice, respectable wife in the suburbs.
But on the inside she’s brimming with uninhibited desires – ones she occasionally can’t help acting upon…
Now, while on a relaxing break at a friend’s beach house, the seed of an exciting new fantasy has planted itself in her mind.
She loves her handsome husband, David.
She loves her beautiful best friend, Sally.
She will invite them both to come play in her secret, sensual world…