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The Bride Stripped Bare: A Novel Hardcover – March 16, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000716226X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007162260
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,826,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A series of diary entries charts the sinuous paths of marriage and sexual desire in this artful book, a bestseller in the U.K. The author of the entries, a nameless 30-something housewife, has disappeared, leaving behind what amounts to 138 "lessons," written in the second-person, for her fellow archetypal "good wives." At first, the gimmick is jarring, but as the protagonist's personality emerges and flowers, readers will be seduced by this sometimes subtle, sometimes overwrought novel set in modern-day London. At first, marriage equals safety to the woman ("it's a relief, to be honest, this surrendering..."), but the sex is humdrum, and Cole, her husband, is remote and fastidious—only oral sex offers a surefire way to orgasm and sometimes he'd just rather watch TV. To make matters worse, he may have engaged in an affair with her best childhood friend. Beginning work on her long-planned book might cheer her up—and so will an affair with lovely Gabriel, of the "cathedral-wide" chest and silky young skin. Thus she commences erotic adventures previously unimaginable. She also becomes pregnant, and the anonymous author is cannily perceptive about the vicissitudes of pregnancy and new motherhood; she writes strikingly of the surprising erotic passion, emotional upheaval and anger that can flare during pregnancy. This unusual but strangely compelling novel offers an intimate chronicle of change and self-discovery, of a woman who makes a final and unexpected choice.
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“Titillating…like an artful striptease, The Bride Stripped Bare ensnares us with its rawness.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Artful…cannily perceptive…this unusual but strangely compelling novel offers an intimate chronicle of change and self-discovery.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Unremitting, elegant and dark. I believe every woman should get married at least once, and read this novel twice.” (Suzanne Finnamore, author of Otherwise Engaged)

“Escapist fiction as its intriguing best. ‘The Bride Stripped Bare’ is sexy with a capital X.” (Jill Davis, author of A Girl’s Poker Night)

“Simply too beautiful...a mesmerizing and disquieting novel that will deserve to be read again.” (Vogue Australia)

“Wonderfully sensuous...witty in its construction...a subtle portrait of a modern marriage.” (Independent)

“One of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.” (Time Out New York)

“Superbly executed: suspense, psychodrama, anger, tenderness and terror mingle with the restlessness of a vast , overpowering landscape.” (London Times Literary Supplement)

“A powerful novel that does not flinch from strong emotion or description...luminous.” (London Times)

“A jazzy, nonlinear...narrative style as compelling and exotic as the landscape itself.” (Baltimore Sun)

“A fierce, white–hot read.” (Booklist)

“Sexual awakening for the dark horse in us all.” (Tatler)

“The sex is rude and raunchy and exactly where you want it.” (Elle)

“An intensely honest look at a woman’s inner thoughts and desires.” (Dallas Morning News)

More About the Author

Nikki Gemmell is the author of several novels, including Shiver, Cleave, The Book of Rapture, and the international bestseller The Bride Stripped Bare. She lives in London with her family.

Customer Reviews

Some of the imagery was very well written but the book was not for me.
I won't spoil the ending for the people who haven't yet read the book, but I will say that I found it very unsatisfying.
G. Recipient
So a bit of a let down, but maybe I was expecting too much based on all the hype that surrounds this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Ocallaghan on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have very mixed opinions about this book. As a story, I enjoyed it: the prose is often excellent, the voice and internal life of the heroine is well done. The framework of the story is intriguing and made me eager to finish it, although the ending isn't so much an ending as a stopping.
Against that, there's a great deal of artificiality. The relentless use of the second person grates. The cardboard cut-out characters of the dull-as-dishwater husband and the impossibly perfect, hunky but virginal, paramour are unrealistic and lack life.
But that should be OK, because this is a novel in form only. Actually, it's an exposition of women's attitudes to sex and their secret feelings and desires. The real purpose of the book is to lay out and discuss these hitherto unknown areas of human life.
But it doesn't and this is where the book spectacularly fails.
The sexual revelations aren't revelatory: who doesn't know nowadays that often marriages lose their sexual passion after a time, that many women don't enjoy performing oral sex or that someone can have a secret life that is at odds with their external persona? Women masturbate and enjoy it. Gasp! Couples can experiment to enhance their sex lives. No, really!?
One of the most difficult aspects of the book is its claim to speak for all women, which is inaccurate and a little offensive. This self-important attitude is present on every page: the fact that it's dedicated to "every husband"; the continual use of the second person; the anonymity of the author (which actually seems to have more to do with marketing than any other consideration). The extreme inability to speak about sex that characterises the protagonist (and, by extension, the author) just doesn't describe most women I know.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Colleen S. Harris on August 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
A gem, for any of you folks who haven't seen it on the Target shelves yet: Nikki Gemell's The Bride Stripped Bare.

Written in Lessons instead of chapters, the novel begins with, "Your husband doesn't know you're writing this. It's quite easy to write it under his nose. Just as easy, perhaps, as sleeping with other people. But no one will ever know who you are, or what you've done, for you've always been seen as the good wife." From there, Gemmell takes us on a journey through a woman's erotic and frightening self-discovery. The narrator moves from boring housewife to experimental secret-keeper upon the discovery of an Elizabethan manuscript that describes women's secret desires. Intrigued that another woman so far removed had felt the same urges and longings, the narrator careens through testing the limits of marriage, dragging the reader through the rabbit hole with her into a world where a bored, naive housewife quickly learns to weave lies and deceit to manipulate those around her.

Fans of poetry, you're in luck - the rich imagery and gorgeous use of language melts on your mental tongue as you read, and though many of the sentences are short, they're rich - I have to admit a tendency to blow through books and then have to go back to read for digestion. This novel, however, had me gasping with exhaustion at the end of every few chapters - it's gut wrenching, in a subversive, disquieting way. The second person voice "you" this, "you" that - the narrative voice intimately involves the reader, turns the reader into a shadowy accomplice during the length of the book. Does each of us have the capacity to blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and are we willing to pay the price that comes with it?
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer M on December 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're American, you may have a little trouble finding it. Thus far, the publisher has only distributed it in London and Sydney. But The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmel (published anonymously by 4th Estate in 2003) is surprisingly worth the hunt.

The story jetes off the premise that the anonymous diarist's mother found the text after her daughter and grandson disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving only their car at the top of a cliff. Their bodies were never found. From there follows the inner secrets of the ostensibly perfect housewife - from her Marrakech honeymoon to her illicit Sevillian affair and her descent into a sexual awakening at the hands of strangers.

The book closes with an open letter from Gemmel explaining that she intended the book to be published without any connection to her due to "personal reasons". She quickly adds that the story is not autobiographical and berates the media for sniffing her out and "forcing" her to put her name to it. One would think the paparazzi had taken great interest in slapping her face on the cover of every tabloid. Given that without this tangential letter most readers would not associate the book with Gemmel, a cynic would wonder if this was all a marketing stunt.

Gemmel takes some fabulous stylistic risks - most notably in writing the entire diary in the second person. The effect is, at worst, a psychological distance created between the reader and the anonymous narrator that reflects the narrator's own internal separation from herself. She doesn't know who she is and, despite reading the most intimate thoughts in her head, neither do we.
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