Smut

The book Smut is my first taste of English author, Mr. Alan Bennett. Bennett’s short little two-story novella was absolutely delightful and delicious. Although the title implies a scandalous read, it was in fact, pretty tame for what I was expecting. Bennett addresses straight sex, gay sex, voyeurism, and extramartial sex along with a smidge of boring sex all over proper afternoon tea and with a hearty dose of British humor.

The first story is the “Greening of Mrs. Donaldson” about a 50-something newly widowed housewife who ends up having to take work as a medical school “exhibitionist” and rent out a room in her house in order to supplement her income. The young couple that rents out her room has difficulty paying the rent and they offer her a solution – she can watch them have sex in lieu of the money.

What transpires is a very proper voyeuristic experience. Mrs. Donaldson sits quite piously with her ankles crossed while watching the two make love. Afterwards, she makes them a cup of tea and everyone goes to bed happy. For a woman that has repressed herself nearly her entire life, this is quite a turn of events. We never see her lose her demeanor, but at the end we get a hint of the beginning of a possible sexual adventure which leaves you wondering what happens to sweet Mrs. Donaldson.

The second story, “The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes” is a bit different and speaks less to the joy of coming out and more to the farce of family life and family secrets. Graham Forbes is a dashing, narcissistic young man who marries a dowdy, but rich young woman much to the dismay of his mother who believes he is lowering himself. While Graham enjoys his life with his new wife, he can’t help but dabble in his past habit of sex with nameless men. It is one of these excursions the night before his wedding that turn everything on its head. We find that while Graham is sleeping with a prostitute/policeman, his wife is sleeping with his father and his mother is sleeping with the same man as Graham.

Both stories are clever and enjoyable. They make you want to sip a cup of tea while you read on to see what happens next. If you’re a fan of British humor and scandalous gossip, you’ll love this book as much as I did.

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2 Comments

  1. Amy 18.Apr.12 at 10:08 am

    If you liked this book, check out his short novel The Uncommon Reader. Hilarious, in that British sort of way.

    Reply
    1. Jessica 18.Apr.12 at 11:19 am

      Thanks, Amy! I’m adding that to my list. 🙂

      Reply

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