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Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair Paperback – January 4, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The powerfully erotic memoir that inspired the legendary film—with a new afterword by the author's daughter

Niine and a Half Weeks is a true story so unusual, so passionate, and so extreme in its psychology and sexuality that it will take your breath away.

Elizabeth McNeill was an executive for a large corporation when she began an affair with a man she met in a chance encounter. Their sexual excitement depended on domination and humiliation, and as their relationship progressed they played out increasingly dangerous and elaborate variations on that pattern. By the end, Elizabeth had relinquished all control over her body—and her mind.

With a cool detachment that makes the experiences and sensations she describes all the more frightening in their intensity, Elizabeth McNeill deftly unfolds her story and invites you into the mesmerizing and shocking world of Nine and a Half Weeks—a world you won't soon forget.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Elizabeth McNeill is a pseudonym for Ingeborg Day, author of the memoir Ghost Waltz. She was an editor at Ms. magazine when both books were published. She died in 2011 at the age of seventy.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060746394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060746391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By girldiver on February 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Nine and a Half Weeks" chronicles the speedy decline of one woman into a relationship of S&M that goes beyond the bedroom and dominates her every action and emotion.

Told in the first person by the woman, you never discover the names of the two characters but you feel the passion, the love, and the pain both physical and especially emotional. It's disturbing to read complete submission between two people and you think to yourself you'd never turn over so much control to another person but you never really know until you live it.

The simplicity of this book is what really makes it complicated and even more compelling to read. So many books are packed with pages and pages of fluff but this book is exquisite by simply telling the story with out volumous pages of prose. Beautifully written.

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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Elise Esclave on September 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I saw the original movie to this book when I was 12, in secret from my parents who forbade me to watch it, and it has haunted me since, although I didn't fully understood why until I read the book...

I can see how its easy for someone looking at the story superficially to view what has occurred here as abuse, but its important to understand that nothing that was done between these two employed and consenting adults non-consenual. Elizabeth was always free to leave, she had a place to live and a job that supported her. She didn't stay with John because he physically forced her to. She, underneath her conflicting emotions on the subject, wanted his violence, dominance, and abuse. Her true freedom was obtained through her completely voluntary submission and surrender to him, through being over-powered, taken, and led to the heights and lows of that submission by him. She could only achieve it through him.

Moreover, the "violence" in the book was merely their extreme expression of sexuality, a heightened version of lovemaking so deep, that most would not venture into it. The sensation of moderate pain mixed with pleasure created an association for Elizabeth where she came to crave it as much as she did John's dominance. Their relationship did not fail because it was abusive. Indeed, what seemed like abuse was consensual power exchange that both needed and craved. There were two reasons why their relationship failed. The first was that dominance needs to be responsible to create a lasting relationship. To lead a woman with complete trust in you into a situation that she will find emotionally damaging is irresponsible dominance.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By eyes4hiseyes on November 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful glimpse into the very private world of Dominance and submission. What is most shocking about this book is that McNeill wrote her story - and got it published - in the seventies, while this subject-matter is still controversial and hush-hush today.

Her prose is clean, unadorned, yet the book is titillating and thought-provoking. The writer tells her shocking tale in a matter-of-fact way, neither judging nor condoning anyone's behavior, nor making apologies for what is simply a seldom revealed side of human nature.

Those who have more than a passing interest in Erotic Power Exchange will enjoy McNeill's heartfelt account of what must have been - judging by the book's final words - the most important, intense relationship of her life - for better or for worse.

I highly recommend this book.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Forget the movie! It's forgettable and formulaic. This 'journal' is anything but. The film does it no justice whatsoever. And much of what's in the film is from the terribly lacking imagination of the screenwriter, and not at all from the book. Let me state that I do not believe the events in the book to be true, but because of that, I have to say it is one of THE great novels ever pumped out by the U.S.. And ultimately, it is a tragedy that will etch itself into the tissue of the reader's brain for life, whether you like S/M, or whether you think it's uninteresting, or sick. The love of this woman is QUITE sincere; and the inward pain she experiences puts all the belt-beatings to shame.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Aletheia Knights on November 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm think I'm the only one in certain circles of my friends who hasn't seen the film adaptation of Elizabeth McNeill's somewhat fictionalized memoir "Nine and a Half Weeks," her account of a brief but consuming love affair. I wanted to read the book first . . . and having finished it, I'm a little stunned.

McNeill's lover (she never gives him a name), seeks to take control almost from the beginning of their relationship. He holds her hands pinned down above her head the first time they have sex. Next time it's a blindfold, and then a bit of light bondage. From there it goes on to slapping her face, and almost before she knows it, she's giving herself up to him completely in ever more disturbing ways. He beats her with a riding crop and a belt, subjects her to public as well as private humiliation for his amusement, keeps her handcuffed for hours at a time, feeds and bathes and dresses her by hand - and she can't get enough. Once a driven and competent career woman, McNeill finds herself sometimes distracted at work with lustful anticipation; other times, she simply moves through the day by rote: only her life with her lover feels truly real. With him, she is "unburdened of adulthood"; in his hands there is "an absolute relinquishing of individuality; an abandoned reveling in the abdication of selfhood." He brings her deeper and deeper under his power, until the day comes that the intensity of her life with him is more than she can bear.

McNeill's poetic prose is as sumptuous as its subject demands, and there are many scenes in this memoir that are powerfully erotic. The writing is frank but never obscene, thoughtful but never analytical (beyond occasional variations of "I'm an independent modern woman, I can't believe I'm doing this").
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