Thursday, 2 August 2012

A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin (1/5)

The back says: Beautiful, bored and bourgeoise, Sabina leads a double life inspired by her relentless desire for brief encounters with near-strangers. Fired into faithlessness by a desperate longing for sexual fulfilment, she weaves a sensual web of deceit across New York. But when the secrecy of her affairs becomes too much to bear, Sabina makes a late-night phone call to a stranger from a bar, and begins a confession that captivates the unknown man and soon inspires him to seek her out.

I say: I had very high hopes for this and was so unbelievably let down; I can’t even know what to say.

Actually I can, but I’m going to make it short because there’s nothing positive in here.

Everything about this novel felt so contrived; from the ‘lie detector’ - that she called who then began following her - to her silly little affairs, to her lying to her husband (I think they were married) about being an actress and yet she was never in any plays and he seemingly never picked up on this, to her pretentiously “bourgeois boredom.”

It was all just too much.

And this is without me mentioning her stereotypical portrayal of the Africans in the club, and the artists who had exchanged America for Europe, only to once again return doing nothing.

It was like watching a Stilleben; the characters were so without depth.

And the supposed erotica was a mere meh.

On top of all this I didn’t care for Nin’s stale and hyperbolic writing. Maybe I’ll try another of her books if it falls into my lap, but I won’t be seeking anything out.

So yeah, 1/5 makes this is the worst book of the year.

*This is my eighteenth entry in The Classic Bribe Challenge (which is an additional incentive for me to work on my Classics Challenge that’s been going on for a tad too long).


  1. What a disappointment! I haven't read any fiction by Anais Nin but heard it's good...guess not, huh? I did start reading her diaries when I was in college and figured I'd start at the beginning but just couldn't get into them. Maybe her writing just isn't that great and even though she lived a controversial life, if it's not written about really well, then it will seem boring to readers.

    1. I just couldn't stand her writing at all, and not even the plot was good enough. Once again, if it wasn't for that Classics Challenge I'd probably have given up. Yeah, I was interested in her diaries as well, but will not bother with them now. They may be different - Oscar Wilde's letter were different (especially De Profundis) from his work, but who knows. Do let me know if you read any of her works, maybe it was just this one novel that was bad (but I doubt it).