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Back to the Book Club!

I thought this was a particularly interesting book club question:

Discuss the role of sex in the novel. Were the steamy segments a diversion from the plot or did Elza’s sexual encounters add something to her story and development as a character—intertwined with her life outside the bedroom?

What do you guys think?

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lillibet
Nov. 24th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
I felt the sex scenes were essential to the plot. Through them you explored Elza's development of her own sexuality and expanded her self-awareness. When they weren't, you moved past them quickly, not dwelling simply for the sake of another sex scene. I love this aspect of your writing!
jo_graham
Nov. 25th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you thought they were necessary. They really are, I think, to understand how Elza is changing and how she's becoming comfortable with who she is, all the aspects of herself!
selenak
Nov. 24th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
I thought your sex scenes were the best kind - part of the characterisation and development. Who Elza was and was becoming at any point in the story was expressed through those scenes. Also who Moreau, Therese, and Michel were, and even Napoleon.

IMO sex scenes come across as random or just thrown in if the characters in them come across as interchangable - if you could switch the names and insert them in another story. Which would be impossible with the scenes from this book.
jo_graham
Nov. 25th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much -- that was my intent, to show who she was at each point by how she was with who she was with. And hopefully you couldn't switch this into any other story and have it work! :)
mari4212
Nov. 24th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Elza figures herself out through sex. They are her growth and re-definition scenes. Even the ones I wasn't too fond of, given the relationship dynamic, taught her something. That means it wasn't sex for the sake of smut, which I would have probably skimmed over.

That being said, because the sex scenes are very prevalent and very important to the story, it wouldn't necessarily be a novel I'd give to everyone.
jo_graham
Nov. 25th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
Oh very much not for everyone! I had to warn my ten year old niece off it!

I think you're right that this is how Elza figures herself out, though. At one point I considered whether I should cut it all down to PG-13, but then realized that I couldn't and have the book actually make any sense!
mari4212
Nov. 25th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Elza is so intensely sexual by her nature. To cut those scenes out or elide them, it would no longer be Elza you were writing. Just like Lydias figures himself out largely through the battles he fought and the people to whom he swore oaths, and you could not have cut out Lydias's battles and had his story make sense.

It says something about our culture that the battles and violence are considered more acceptable to watch or read than sex is.
jo_graham
Nov. 25th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
It says something about our culture that the battles and violence are considered more acceptable to watch or read than sex is.

That's something I've noticed. Simple nudity will get a movie an NC-17 rating, while the horrible and grotesque violence will only get a PG-13! It makes no sense to me. I'd a lot rather have my daughter see nudity than casual evisceration!

That's a very good point about Lydias and Elza! I hadn't thought about it quite that way, but yes. To understand Lydias, you have to see his battles and how that shapes him. And to understand Elza you have to see the sex. You don't need to see the sex with Lydias because you know what he's like. With Elza, it's needed.

Rereading it, it's interesting how much of Lydias is in Elza. She's very consciously reaching for him when she's being Charles on the road to Italy and the road home. The fight with the bandits -- Elza knows what to do because she has been Lydias, and she's been reaching for that part of herself. That's the moment when she's most Lydias, I think.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )