Gosh but Fanny Hill has A LOT of sex in it. Sex between men and women, women and women, men and men, partners of varying ages, mental and physical abilities, in different positions and in different environmental conditions. It is in short, a novel without a plot, but instead a collection of events that allow for the graphic narration of sex. So many mentions of exploits, things gorged and red, thrusts, sighs and wetness. In fact, I’ve included a word cloud so you can see just how much of the text (all of it!) is given over to narrating sex.
Yep, it’s not one to read/listen to out in public. Such blushes.
But despite the titillation and *cough* excitement of the first few chapters of Fanny Hill, I admit I quickly became bored of yet another sex scene with yet another virgin or yet another “mistaken” attempt at anal sex. Which isn’t to say that I’m a virtuous or prudish reader, rather, that 250 pages of the same plot events would be boring no matter what was being narrated! Yawn.
As for the limited character development… well, I was disappointed. Fanny is principally awesome because she isn’t at all embarrassed or ashamed of her wanton behaviour, rather she relishes pleasure and seeks it out for herself. But the conclusion of the text sees her marrying her one true love and renouncing the wanton life in favour of riches and monogamy. Yawn. Given just how scandalous the rest of the book is, I can see little reason to end it with such convention. I had rather hoped she’d die of venereal disease… Perhaps one of my 18th century scholar-friends can provide me an answer to why such a conventional and annoying ending?
So while I’ll recommend Fanny Hill if you’re looking to diversify your personal pleasure reading, I can’t recommend it well if you’re at all interested in anything approximating plot, character or thematic development.