Monday, August 22, 2011

REVIEW: My Mistress' Thighs by Giselle Renarde

There are some books you just don’t want to finish . . . books you choose to savour in small doses, saving them for those times when you can completely devote yourself to the joys of the reading experience. They are the books you refuse to rush, the ones you absolutely cannot fathom squeezing in between lunch breaks, because you refuse to allow other commitments to so arbitrarily frame your enjoyment.

My Mistress' Thighs is so very much one of those books!

Those of you who stop by regularly are well aware of my love for Giselle Renarde. I’ve had the great pleasure of reading a few stories in her latest collection before – and enjoyed reading them just as much the second time around – but it was the discovery of new stories that kept my fingers turning the pages.

Third Rail, Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice, and Spring Fever are all stories that I’ve read (and reviewed) before, so I won’t dedicate too much time to them here . . . other than to say Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice is one of my all-time favourite reads. If you’re new to Giselle’s work, and not sure where to start, you can’t go wrong with that one!

The Public Life of Private Paulsen is a wonderfully sweet and romantic tale, in which two old army buddies meet up years after the war. Once just friends, their relationship is on the cusp of transformation, owing to the fact that Private Paulsen has become Pearl Paulsen, the celebrity recipient of one of Europe’s first sex-change surgeries. In some ways it’s a bittersweet story, which touches on the suicidal thoughts that prompted Pearl to originally enlist, but it’s ultimately uplifting. A strong story to lead off the collection, and one that hints at the diversity to follow.

Friends of Dorothy and Leslie Goosemoon Rides Again are a wonderful pair of stories, with the story of an awkward, crossdressing cowboy coming early in the collection, and that of a far more confident (if somewhat defensive) cowgirl coming at the end. Both are great stories, approaching the questions of sex and gender from a slightly different angle, but with the same character at the heart of both.

Dressing for Dinner and Love in the Time of Instant Messenger are both fun little stories, quick reads that definitely excite, but which simply didn’t resonate with me as much as the others. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them, just that they pale a bit in the face of some rather stiff competition.

A Wolf in Grandmother’s Clothing is, by far, my favourite ‘new’ story in the collection. This one is playful, edgy, and so deliciously kinky. The story of Red Riding Hood has been retold in so many ways, but never quite like this. I’m reluctant to say much about it, because the story hinges on a series of delicious twists that had me squealing with girlish glee, but I promise you’ll never look at the Big Bad Wolf in quite the same way again!

Expanded Definitions is another thoughtfully romantic tale, and one which had even me guessing. It’s probably the deepest story in the collection, and one that really forces you to confront your expectations regarding gender, before confronting your expectations about what sex can (or should) be. It’s a difficult story in places, and one that packs an emotional wallop, but that only provides Giselle with a chance to shine.

Cock for a Day is . . . well, just pure, unadulterated, kinky, fetishistic fun. It’s probably the shortest story in the collection, a quick little fantasy about a woman who wakes up with something extra down there, but one of my favourites. She imagines how it would feel, what she’d do about it, and what she’d do with it – all of which, of course, revolves around her husband, who suddenly finds himself curious in ways most men would never admit. I wish it had been longer, but it’s still a heck of a lot of fun!

Finally, I would be woefully remiss if I didn’t say a few words about the words of poetry that Giselle sprinkles throughout the collection. A long line of English professors will attest to the fact that my poetry appreciation generally begins and ends with whether or not the lines rhyme (lol), but these brief sonnets are lovely reads. They not only serve to pace the collection, to transition us from one story to another, but at beautiful reads on their own.

Whether this is your first encounter with Giselle’s work, or simply your latest, I daresay there’s nowhere better to find yourself than between (the pages ofMy Mistress’ Thighs.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this review, Sally! I'm glad you enjoyed the collection. I'm always going around telling people, "You should read My Mistress' Thighs--it's so beautifully formatted!" Good to hear the stories are worth something, too. LOL