Queue My Review

August 2, 2008

Review: Secret Diary of a Call Girl by Anonymous

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , — kris012 @ 7:15 am
Secret Diary of a Call Girl by Anonymous

“Secret Diary of a Call Girl” is significantly different from any of the other books I’ve read for Queue My Review so far.  First, although there is a ton of sex in the book, it’s definitely not a romance.  And second, it’s non-fiction.  The author, writing under the pseudonym Belle de Jour, is unable to find work with her university degree and decides that the best way to afford her London rent is to become a high-class prostitute.

Belle writes about her job in a witty, charming, and amazingly frank manner.  She is clearly not ashamed of her job and doesn’t mince any words about describing her experiences.  Belle juxtaposes the tales of her clients with updates about the progress of her relationship with her boyfriend (who knows about Belle’s job).

While I found the book interesting (and certainly a change from what I typically read), it seems like Belle and her editor thought the risqué subject matter and her charismatic inner voice would override any other flaws in the book.  For one, I thought the diary format was awkward and odd and later learned that much of the material had been previously published as Belle’s blog entries.  While that style may work online, it was unnecessarily distracting to me in a book format.  The story meanders around, eventually getting around to the various topics in no particular order (such as Belle’s decision to become a call girl, how she actually got into the trade, her first appointment, etc.).  Also, Belle often tells her story through flashbacks, but doesn’t do a good job of identifying if the action is “current” or if it is part of the back story.  I frequently read the events thinking they happened on a particular day, only to realize at the end of the entry that she was describing something from several months (or even years) ago.

The other major downfall of a non-fiction book is that it’s based on real life.  Compared to fiction stories where authors create their own plot points, a memoir writer just can’t (or shouldn’t) make up additional information to increase the “interesting” parts of the book (this point was clearly shown during the James Frey debacle over “Million Little Pieces”).  After a while, Belle’s encounters with her clients all start to seem the same and are somewhat boring.  And at the end, there was no real resolution about what Belle intends to do in the future.  Her interest in being a call girl falters, but there’s no real decision made about whether she is planning to continue her career or to stop.  The book ended without any conclusion one way or the other, which was irritating to me.

It may be obvious, but I do need to say outright this book is not for anybody with delicate sensibilities about sex.  There is a lot of it and the descriptions can be fairly graphic.  Still, one thing I enjoy about books is their ability to show me new and different ways of experiencing the world.  Taken from that perspective, Belle de Jour’s “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” succeeded in sharing (in a humorous way) the details of a way of life I knew little about.


Reviewed by Kristina


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