CHASTENED by Hephzibah Anderson


The Unexpected Story of My Year Without Sex
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A journalist’s account of her voluntary chastity.

Anderson, a 30ish, single woman about town in London and New York, had always found sex easy but love elusive. She was spurred to rethink her approach to relationships with men after seeing an ex-boyfriend escorting his girlfriend into a jewelry store. Saying no to sex would, she hoped, help her find love. The story of her venture into a flirty sort of chastity began in July and ended in August of the following year, with most chapters dealing with a single month. While recounting her adventures and misadventures, she philosophizes about sex, dipping into feminist history, psychology and sociology. While shopping for a chaste wardrobe, she muses on what women communicate by what they wear, and a movie date launches her into a discussion of the depiction of sex on the screen, from Hepburn and Tracy in Adam’s Rib to Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up. Men abound in this memoir, some alive and present, others as colorful memories. The author asserts that “while closing myself off physically, I’ve opened up more psychologically,” and that her year without taught her many things about relationships. However, a disastrous sexual liaison at the year’s end indicates that may not have been quite the case. Though her experience didn’t bring her true love, it provided her with some titillating journalistic material.

The author’s romantic entanglements may fail to engage the reader, but she provides a vivid portrait of the currently pervasive culture of casual sex.

Pub Date: June 24th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02186-4
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2010


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