Book review: Fanny Hill by John Cleland

fanny_hillThe book:
The book is known as Fanny Hill, but the real name is Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The book is divided in 10 different parts. I have no idea how many pages the original book had.

I wanted to read this book since I have heard a lot about it, but have never even laid eyes on it. To make sure that I did not lose focus, I put an item in my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days – I had to read at least 3 books from the banned book list. And guess what? Fanny Hill has once been banned.

I could not find the book, but I was fortunate enough to come across an audio book.

The author:
John Cleland was baptized on 24 September 1709 and died on 23 January 1789. He grew up in London. Apparently he had been expelled from school, or left school early due to reasons which were not financial.

John Cleland had been arrested because of Fanny Hill and when he was released from prison, he attempted to write more, but he never again had the success that he had with Fanny Hill.

More information about John Cleland can be found on Wikipedia.

The main characters:
Fanny Hill – a girl living in a small village near Liverpool and who moves to London at the age of 15, just after both her parents have died.
Mrs. Brown – a madam who wants Fanny to work as a prostitute.
Phoebe – the associate of Mrs. Brown and she introduces Fanny to some sexual pleasures.
Charles – the wealthy 19-year old wealthy young man that Fanny falls in love with, but he is sent away by his father.

Several other people crosses Fanny’s path and she gets involved in different relationships, such as with Mr. H and Will.

If you want to read a summary of the plot, you can find it on Wikipedia.

The story:
Fanny moves to London and is abandoned by the friend who told her she should go to the city. She is taken in by Mrs. Brown where Fanny thought she would be able to work as a maid, but Mrs. Brown intended her to work as a prostitute. Phoebe is Mrs. Browns associate and she introduces Fanny to sexual pleasures. Fanny also spies on Mrs. Brown having sex and masturbated while watching them. She is whisked away from Mrs. Brown by Charles. They want to spend their lives together, but Charles’s father has him kidnapped and sent off to sea. Mrs. Jones, where Fanny and Charles lived up to him being kidnapped, wants Fanny to work as a prostitute for her. Fanny is introduced to Mr. H, who puts Fanny up in a flat until he finds her having sex with a younger servant.

The story continues with many twists and turns and different experiences for Fanny. Not only sex between a man and a woman, but also sex between women and men happen in the book.

The book is supposed to be a compilation of letters that Fanny writes to an unknown woman.

If you want to read Fanny Hill, you can read it online.

My opinion:
I absolutely love Fanny Hill!

When I started listening to it, I realized I really had to listen closely, since it is written in ‘old English’ which is much different from the English we speak and hear. Once I was ‘used’ to listening to it, I did not find it difficult anymore and could easily follow the story.

I just loved the description of some of the sex scenes, such as when Charles took Fanny’s virginity.

He now resumes his attempts in more form: first, he put one of the pillows under me, to give the blank of his aim a more favourable elevation, and another under my head, in ease of it; then spreading my thighs, and placing himself standing between them, made them rest upon his hips; applying then the point of his machine to the slit, into which he sought entrance: it was so small, he could scarce assure himself of its being rightly pointed. He looks, he feels, and satisfies himself: the driving forward with fury, its prodigious stiffness, thus impacted, wedgelike, breaks the union of those parts, and gain’d him just the insertion of the tip of it, lip-deep; which being sensible of, he improved his advantage, and following well his stroke, in a straight line, forcibly deepens his penetration; but put me to such intolerable pain, from the separation of the sides of that soft passage by a hard thick body, I could have scream’d out; but, as I was unwilling to alarm the house, I held in my breath, and cramm’d my petticoat, which was turn’d up over my face, into my mouth, and bit it through in the agony. At length, the tender texture of that tract giving way to such fierce tearing and rending, he pierc’d something further into me: and now, outrageous and no longer his own master, but borne headlong away by the fury and over-mettle of that member, now exerting itself with a kind of native rage, he breaks in, carries all before him, and one violent merciless lunge sent it, imbrew’d, and reeking with virgin blood, up to the very hilt in me . . . Then! then all my resolution deserted me: I scream’d out, and fainted away with the sharpness of the pain; and, as he told me afterwards, on his drawing out, when emission was over with him, my thighs were instantly all in a stream of blood that flow’d from the wounded torn passage.

Isn’t that just beautiful? It’s ART!

There’s a lot more of these kind of passages in the book.

Just read it!


© Rebel’s Notes

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