An explosive novel of sex, secrecy and escape by an anonymous writer. A woman disappears. Her car lies abandoned on a remote bluff; no body is found. She was the good wife, the good mother: mannerly, quiet, self-contained. But she has left behind an incendiary diary chronicling a disturbing journey of sexual awakening. As the diary opens on her honeymoon in Morocco, she believes herself to be happy -- or happy enough, anyway. Swiftly, this security masquerading as love fractures in an act of massive betrayal, only to propel her into a world of desire and fantasy and recklessness. What begins for her in the imagination ends in a tangle of sheets, in a drowning spiral of obsession and release. She finds an unlikely heroine to inspire her in a dusty, rare manuscript written by an anonymous woman in the 1600s, a cry from the heart for women to live and love freely. With this as guide, she dares to rupture convention, learning, for the first time, the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is, how long can her soul sustain a perilous double life? Coolly impassioned, THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE tells shocking truths about love and sex.
The author has had two previous novels published to critical acclaim, with reviewers hailing the freshness and power of her writing. In the tradition of women over the centuries, she has decided to conceal her name in order to allow herself utter freedom in the writing of this novel.
'Starkly explicit...richly descriptive with a fast-paced narrative' Sunday Telegraph 'Nikki Gemmel's prose has a wonderful sensuousness...witty...a subtle portrait of a modern and rather alienating marriage' Lisa Appignanesi, Independent Magazine 'Must read...A tale of sexual awakening for the dark horse in all of us' Tatler 'The sex is well-written...Gemmell is refreshingly straightforward about the act' Melanie McGrath, Evening Standard 'Easy to read, hard to put down. Keep an extinguisher handy' Closer 'A page-turner' Evening Standard 'A bored housewife embarks on a life of sexual pleasure...The sex is rude and raunchy and "exactly where you want it"' Elle 'Personal dilemmas are bravely explored; thoughts and fantasies about sex and infidelity, which most women have learned to keep to themselves, are laid bare on the page in all their shocking glory...brutal, brilliant and addictive' Glasgow Herald
In the literary tradition of female rebellion comes The Bride Stripped Bare, an explosive account of one woman's sexual awakening and a meta-diary about the creation of a manuscript. The story begins and ends with notes from the narrator's mother, whose daughter has disappeared with her newborn son; her car and the baby's pushchair have been found near a cliff, but no bodies have been recovered. All that remains of the young woman is a manuscript that reveals to the grieving mother a daughter she now questions if she ever knew. This dramatic framework is secondary to the manuscript itself, a blistering, second-person narrative written by an author who never identifies herself by name, only by sharing her experience with the reader and therefore making her an Everywoman. Beginning her diary in Morocco, on her delayed honeymoon, the narrator stumbles into the hotel room and overhears her husband having an intimate conversation with her best friend. From that point on, her life changes. Her husband is a stranger; her best friend is gone. In trying to start again, the narrator embarks on a project: she decides to write an answer to the scandalous 16th-century feminist text that's been in her family for generations. She documents what women really want, meanwhile embarking on a steamy affair with a young Spanish actor and eventually living out her sexual fantasies with strangers. In finally achieving sexual satisfaction from others, she finds renewed interest in her marriage, appreciating her husband and strengthening her bond with him. The book ends with the birth of her baby, and the feeling of triumph that she could do something that her best friend could not: begin a family with the man they both love and find fulfilment in motherhood. The framework of the book, however, reveals the truth behind the myth that women only want to be mothers. This is a powerful and intelligent novel, with an unpopular message: that sex and love are not always the same thing, and that it is never possible fully to know another person - or oneself. (Kirkus UK)
Shortlisted for Nielsen BookData/ABA Book of the Year Award - Booksellers' Choice 2003.
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Fourth Estate Ltd