This review is from: A Woman with (No) Strings Attached (Paperback)
An astonishing book from an author I had never heard of. I had become disenchanted with the modern written word, and sunk back into poetry. A personal recommendation lead me to this book, and it has rekindled my love for the art, and art this truly is.
The book is a story of a woman’s discovery of herself, written as a memoir. She writes with a frankness and bravery that is rare. The book passes through her life growing up in a communist country, her difficult marriage and her sexual rediscovery later in life. There are frank descriptions of sexual encounters, but it is not erotica, as it is simply that the whole book is written with this bare frankness that never flinches. Ultimately the book is about love. The modern, almost forensic (she is a doctor!) description of the mechanical acts, marries with a tale of what is a very classical love. She shows no ego at all in her witting, and this shows most in what is the most fascinating part, and core of the book, which is of an almost obsessive love.
The memoir reads like snapshots of streams of thought, predominantly by the main character. It gives it an intense, sometimes claustrophobic read, which adds to the feel of momentum as you read.
Then, there is the humour. After finishing the book, I got a friend to buy a copy, by getting him to randomly flick through the pages and read a few paragraphs. Most of the time there was something that made us both physically laugh out loud. After doing this about 4 times, he said he would stop reading the book he was on and start this one.
I have never written a review on Amazon before, but I think this is a bit of a find. Its one of those books that will last in the memory for many years.
I enjoyed this book. It was different. It is certainly erotica, but in a different form to that which I have previously read. It is an autobiography of a woman who suddenly releases a sexual side of herself which she never even knew was locked inside her.
Lucie is a family doctor from Prague. Her husband was a bit of a rotter. Her long-term lover, Tom, is a bit of a voyeur and is complicit, from afar, in her sexual adventures. She sets herself up for no-string-attached sex via an online dating site. Tom helps her to define her provocative profile, and even writes some of her correspondence with her online sex partners.
She has some fantastic times, and describes them very explicitly. She also gets into a bit of trouble from time to time, mainly when she ignores Tom’s experienced advice. There seemed to be more sad times in Lucie’s life than good times, but I think that is because, in this book, she held back on telling us about those wonderful parts of her life.
There is quite a lot in the text to make you laugh.
Lucie’s writing style is, and I use the word again, different, but I find it difficult to say how. Perhaps it is the Czech spin on her English. I don’t know. But the little quirks make it attractive to read.
Some of the descriptions of sexual acts are very arousing indeed, and fire up the imagination to very high temperatures. Other descriptions are a little clinical, but then, she IS a doctor!
The only niggle that I had was her repetition of “my sexual revolution.” It became a cliche. I suppose that, to be fair, that’s what this book is about. I did a count of the phrase, and it was only used eighteen times..
In summary, this is a good debut I hope that Lucie will write some more. Maybe she should have a go at expanding just one of her sexual adventures into a full blown novel which is total fantasy. If she does, I hope that she injects more of her wicked sense of humour.
A very unusual story, a very brave story too in many respects because in this book Lucie lets us into her heart and soul and tells us , though under a pseudonym, her innermost thoughts and fears as her life progresses.
Now Lucie tells us this is not erotica, but it does contain erotic passages, relating’s of messages she receives and sends via the dating website she uses.
Now though the progress she makes in losing her inhibitions and venturing into the world of FWB relationship is a good part of this recounting. I personally found many other parts of her story to be just as interesting.
Her upbringing under a restrictive communist regime, her early encounters with men, her interest in sex, but her not really knowing why, and last, and by no means least, the little anecdotes and stories she weaves into the story that left me wanting more.
If you are looking for something a little different from the usual romance, if you like to read of a woman’s enlightenment and her new found freedom to explore her sexuality, then I’m sure you will enjoy reading Lucie Novak’s book. It’s a very unusual story indeed
Unique, original and captivating 🙂 Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was unlike anything I’ve read before and I’m really glad I picked this up on my kindle. This genre is usually not something I find myself interested in, but the main characters voice had me wanting to know more and more. The descriptive and personal nature of the book had me feeling like I was right along side the MC in this journey. With some of the men/situations that were described, hell I wish I would have been 😉 Overall really enjoyed this and would recommend to anyone who is over the age of 18 🙂
Absolutely fascinating and very unusual.
Engrossed with the story, but the ending tailed off.
Very interesting book and often very entertaining!
The main theme of the book is sex, and there are a lot of very detailed sexual descriptions. That’s fairly interesting to me, but I was more interested in the other stuff—love, family relationships, friendships, medical career, character insights, etc.
A large percentage of the book is told through email and chat exchanges, sometimes between Lucie and men she meets on a website for married people to explore other avenues. And many of the email exchanges are between Lucie and her friend/lover Tom. These messages are told through italics. There were a few instances where I was confused about where the emails ended and the narration began. There seemed to be a few mistakes with not ending the italics.
There were also times I felt it might have been better to tell the story as direct narration and not through letters to Tom.
Lucie seems to stereotype at times (men and British folks) which is ironic because she talks about Jews being stereotyped. That was kind of funny.
Her friend Tom is American and she seems to see Americans through rose-colored glasses. She talks about how in America, people wouldn’t take such note of her Czech accent. There’s the idea that it doesn’t matter about your accent or skin color; if you’re living in America for a reasonable amount of time, you are accepted as being American. I wish that were true, but unfortunately it is not! Now it may be true with some people and some communities. But just as there are closed-minded people in the UK, the same can be said of the good old USA.
In America, there have been times where people who do not have a certain look get the question. “Where are you from?” No…I mean where are you REALLY from?”
Lucie gives great insight into her character through narration and often through compliments she gets through others… via the italicized email/chat exchanges. You also learn a lot about her character through how she describes other people. For example, she sees men who play war reenactment games as being childish. I don’t agree with this. I like when adults are still willing to use their imagination and play. So that wasn’t my favorite part of the book.
But there are times when Lucie was negative about people and I so enthusiastically could relate to her dislike. I wanted to cheer her on…maybe just for describing such annoying personalities. There was one guy who was incredibly cocky…very up himself. Then there was another who was quick to make assumptions about Lucie…assume he had the ability to understand her.
I wasn’t sure I liked Tom in the book. But my opinion went towards the positive when he came down hard on Lucie about not taking driving safety seriously enough.
The writing of the book was well done…easy to read. I wouldn’t have minded losing some of the sex stuff. But then some people might say they wished there was more. So it’s probably the right length.
My favorite quote from the book: But the reason some of my casual lovers reminded me of Ameer was the way that they seemed to have many sexual skills, but did not apply them to the right situations. There is no point knowing how to make a perfect steak if your guest is a vegetarian.”
A Woman with (no) Strings Attached is a startling tale of bicultural and bicephalous love. In its stark portrayal of the new libertinism of the twenty-first century, this novel sets a standard for excellence that may not be equalled for some time .
The heroine Lucie grows up in the Kunderesque wasteland of the dying years of the People’s Republic of Czechoslovakia. Feeling pressure from family and friends to become sexually active she has two love affairs with men trapped in menial employment because the rules of the communist regime do not allow individuals with their bourgeois class backgrounds to receive university educations or to occupy positions of responsibility in society. These two trapped men accept to enter into love affairs that will go nowhere, because their own lives can go nowhere.
Eventually, Lucie finishes medical school. She begins to date Honza who is headed towards a career in academia and hence a suitable match for someone with her status in society. The erratic quality of Honza’s erections and lack of imagination in bed do not disturb her because she attaches little importance to sex.
Lucie is periodically troubled my memories of an erotically charged pair of siblings that she met at a resort on a German beach when she was fifteen. She was quickly attracted to the brother and sister but then recoiled in horror when they appear to invite her to participate in sex as a trio.
Eventually, Honza and Lucie marry. Next they make a common mistake frequently committed by young Czechoslovakian couples in the years between 1968 and 1989; they decide to flee to the west. They then spend several nightmarish years waiting for the visa applications to process. Lucie describes her humiliation at being obliged to bribe one official with presents in order to accelerate the visa applications. The author might have pointed out that during that same period medical doctors in Czechoslovakia routinely bled their patients white with their firm but unstated expectations of presents but apparently feeling that this would be a digression the author refrained from doing so. The essential point was that the young couple had to endure great suffering and many embarrassments in order to embark on a course of action that would ultimately destroy their marriage and happiness.
Lucie and Honza finally manage to arrive in England where they face the daunting task of re-establishing themselves in their professions. Lucie who is an unstoppable force succeeds through great effort. Honza is not so lucky. He becomes a house husband before moving back to Czechoslovakia when the chance to become a university professor is offered to him. Luce and Honza live apart for several years. The inevitable happens. Lucie catches Honza being unfaithful and concludes that the marriage has lived out its usefulness. Honza acknowledges the truth of the matter and the marriage is dissolved.
Upon reflecting on her husband’s infidelity, Lucie concludes that she has been letting the grass grow under her feet. She decides to resume her sex life. The opportunity comes when an old friend, Tom, now living in the New York decides to visit the U.K. The two click and quickly go to bed together. Lucie is surprised to discover that sex offers far greater pleasure than she had ever dreamed it could. She resolves to indulge in more sex without commitment
Tom explains to Lucie that to enjoy sex for sex’s sake requires mental and technical training. Lucie and Tom form a predatory pact to pursue this goal. Lucie will join a meeting site under the pseudonym of Adrienne for adults looking for casual sex. Tom will assist Lucie by writing the emails to her prospects. This ensures that the communication will effectively target male sensibilities. Moreover because Tom is a voyeur he will enjoy himself by participating in this manner. To further augment Tom’s pleasure, Lucie will provide detailed reports of the encounters. In his way Lucie is able to participate in a sexual threesome thus ending many years of remorse for having passed up the opportunity as a fifteen year old virgin in Germany.
At this point the novel acquires the epistolary form and mood of Choderlos de la Clos’s great eighteenth century novel Les Liasisons Dangereuses. In this arrangement Tom plays the role of the Marquis de Valmont while Lucie is the surrogate for the Marquise de Merteuil.
In a stunning act of virtuosity, the author presents correspondence with between 19 contacts from the site and the bicephalous Adrienne (the Web Site Alter Ego of Tom and Lucie) . Everyone corresponds with distinct voices and styles so the reader scarcely ever needs to be reminded who is writing.
The reader is then led through a delightful sequence of sexual encounters described in highly prurient and richly comical terms. The innocent Anglo-Saxon clods never realize that that they are mere playthings in the hands of a nefarious bicephalous predator.
Ultimately the game collapses. The two heads of Adrienne both believe themselves to be in charge. When Tom starts to get upset with Lucie’s initiative the pact crumbles. Lucie wants to retain Tom as lover but is not prepared to relinquish control over Adrienne. The relationship between Tom and Lucie as lovers ends. At the novel’s conclusion concludes, the undaunted Lucie is planning her next move firmly resolved not to look back.
A Woman with (no) Strings Attached is a novel of great humour and extraordinary bleakness. If you have the stomach for somewhat graphic descriptions of sexual encounters you should enjoy this tale of the joys of commitment free sex in the 21st Century.
The author of this book has outdone herself. When I picked up this book to read, I never knew that along with the author or let us say with the author’s help, I too would undergo a revolution in the way I perceive a normal biological function.
The characters in this story are well described and are ones whom we encounter in all walks of life. That is what makes this book different. The characters mentioned in this book are real and play a vital role in the shaping of the protagonist’s understanding of her true self. The novel is humorous and full of hidden truths, which we all need to comprehend, to fully enjoy this book. It is a book of passion and compassion, two ideals that never go together, but the author has brought these two incompatible ideals together to make us understand that love is not about being selfish but about being selfless. I would encourage all lovers to read this beautiful book which narrates to us the true love that the author has for her dear friend Tom, who let her blossom as a self-actualized human being. Call this book a memoir, a novel or an account of equality between the sexes…the author has made an impact which is enriching and changes the way we look at ourselves as husbands, wives, lovers, girlfriends, boyfriends etc.
Lastly, I would recommend this book to all adult girls…from different countries…from different sections of society to read and be liberated…just the way I was liberated. I congratulate Lucie Novak the author for giving us such a very fascinating account of her life that will and can change the mindset of people everywhere.
Since this book is about awakening to oneself, it is (in a very unusual way) a work about coming to greater self-awareness of one’s body and feelings. Because Lucie is an intellectual and a scientist, the book offers insights and observations, of Lucie herself and of the men she comes to know. Though the book is not a work of research, which is good since that would be cold and rather absurd, the keen eye of a scientist comes into play and that is one of the ‘characters’ that makes this book so interesting. Lucie sees some of these men more clearly, in important, character-revealing and sexual respects, than they see themselves. She thinks things through, while many of them do not. She gives the lie to stupid, sexist assertions about men being thinkers while women are more emotional and fuzzy. Bollocks! Lucie observes and thinks rings around many of the men, but she is also kind and thoughtful enough to let them save face when they encounter things about themselves that they cannot accept or deal with. In that way, she is quite unusual. She only meets her match in a few of the men she has relations with, and one can certainly see why she favors them: they are as smart as her and communicate as fearlessly, and that makes them unusually sexy, too. While this book is erotic, there is much, much more to ‘A Woman with (no) Strings Attached’ than erotica. This book may not be for ‘Romantics’ (another approach to sex entirely) but the candor and lack of drama were, to me, a breath of fresh air.
As a woman in her 50’s, I find it difficult to find books with characters that I can relate to. I was lucky to read about this book on an over 50 website for women. Lucie is a woman like me, in a long marriage without much passion, who decides to leave her husband. That in itself would be a book I would read, but not only does she leave her husband, she decides to embrace her sexuality. Some might be uncomfortable with the thought of a post menopausal woman going onto an online dating site to find sexual partners, and experimenting with sex, especially with multiple partners and with a lover in another country who is a voyeur and reads descriptions of each encounter that “Adrienne” has. But I think it is fantastic, and I know that Lucie isn’t the only woman out there discovering that she is more sexual being than she was 20 or 30 years ago. Lucie is an extremely likable character, vulnerable yet strong, someone I would like to be friends with. When she writes about her professional life, as a family physician, one can see that she is kind and understanding, and her new found sexuality allows her to be an even better doctor than she was before. Lucie is also a wonderful writer, descriptive and funny, and the story covered the whole range of emotions – joy, sorrow, heartache, hope. Thank you for writing this book Lucie, I hope to see more of your work in the near future.
Dj trailer ( Stan)
i could sum this book up with the words of boccaccio , ““While farmers generally allow one rooster for ten hens, ten men are scarcely sufficient to service one woman.” ” 😉 jk
a divorced czech woman in her 50’s gets quite depressed after her divorce and she meets an american man who shows her the ropes of dating online and helps her to explore her own body . there’s indispensable information for women of the online dating world in this book . and most importantly tips that will keep one off the missing persons list.
the main character confronts her own limitations and learns to deal with partners who come from a myriad of different lifestyles. fighting a battle on two fronts.she runs into many who are full of s***,controlling ones,timid ones, the whole gamut. she does a fantastic job of keeping the book focused and in chronological order. she starts of by choosing an alias for an online dating website that was the complete opposite of the old lucie. her american partner helps her write messages to these men just to get her feet wet (no euphemism lol). the book goes from online messages in italics to the actual meeting, then she talks about the men, critiques herself and notes her growth .never losing focus. i cannot believe this is the authors first book. at first reading this book seemed like work for me. i wasnt particularly interested in a well-to-do woman’s sex life but i was pleasantly surprised. a very focused, intelligent, honest book, i think this book is important not only for women but also for men. maybe youre like one of those jerks she meets on a date and you can reflect on yourself. im sure most men will see some of themselves in one or more of lucie’s partners. shes far from perfect herself, but thats what i got from this book. dont be one of the lame dudes she runs into. now on the woman side i think this book would be very useful for women who are in the situation lucie started in, overweight(not necessarily),depressed, unfullfilled sex life. perhaps this book will give you the incentive to live a fuller life.
I am giving this book a 4 for importance and courage. This story is an important one for women over 50- you know the stereotype, after menopause, no interest in sex anymore, that type of thing. Well I can tell you as a 56 year old woman that is not true. But I know many who think it is, and sadly, they have resigned to it. These women, and all women over 50 should read this. It tells the story of “Adrienne”, a divorced woman who decides with the help of her special friend, her partner, to explore her sexuality and experiment with men she meets and screens online. It is a deliberate process; emailing back and forth, meeting for coffee or dinner first, to see if there is an attraction.
The email exchanges between Adrienne and her prospective sexual encounters were detailed, thoughtful and funny- I enjoyed reading them, but the writing started to really flow effortlessly when Lucie (who is Adrienne to her men) tells us about Tom, her partner, whom she loves. Those parts I liked best. I did feel that Adrienne put herself in danger, and I had a slight problem with that. But her confidence and openness throughout this story is there, as is her vulnerability.
Lucie is funny as she tells us in detail about her encounters, her bad driving, and just about her life and opinions of things. It took a great deal of courage to write a book like this, as it is explicit,, which I liked! This is an honest memoir of a woman who was determined to change, with the help of Tom, a very very special person. This is much more than a book about liberating sex though, it is also a love story that left me teary at the end. When you read this, put all judgment aside and just read it for what it is- a liberating memoir of a woman we can all learn from, after all, this author is a doctor!
An erotic memoir that is intimate, explicit, and interesting. But Novak’s life is about much, much more than about sex, and some of the most moving passages recount her life in a communist state, her work as a physician, as an emigrant, and coming to terms with her Jewish identity. Peppered with great literary quotes. Rich and rewarding. Highly recommended.
It’s a very enjoyable read. The beginning starts off with a sex scene and ends with a woman being liberated. It is a long story filled with self-discovery of Lucie as she journeys from her home country of Czechoslovakia to the United States, to United Kingdom, where she finds her own happiness and confidence. Sex scenes were really good; very enjoyable read.