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Bride Stripped Bare

Bride Stripped Bare

2.6 56
by Nikki Gemmell

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A woman disappears, leaving behind an incendiary diary chronicling a journey of sexual awakening. To all who knew her, she was the Good Wife: happy, devoted, content. But the diary reveals a secret self, one who's discovered that her new marriage contains mysteries of its own. Inspired by a manuscript written by an anonymous Elizabethan woman who dared to speak


A woman disappears, leaving behind an incendiary diary chronicling a journey of sexual awakening. To all who knew her, she was the Good Wife: happy, devoted, content. But the diary reveals a secret self, one who's discovered that her new marriage contains mysteries of its own. Inspired by a manuscript written by an anonymous Elizabethan woman who dared to speak of what women truly desire, she tastes for the first time the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is, How long can she sustain a perilous double life?

In writing The Bride Stripped Bare, the author decided to remain anonymous so she would feel absolutely free to explore a woman's inner world. As she writes in her afterword, "That doesn't mean this book is a memoir; it's many things to me, fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and fact, a quilt pieced together not only from my stories but those of my friends."

Coolly impassioned, The Bride Stripped Bare tells startling truths about love and sex. It will make you question whether it is ever entirely possible to know another person.

Editorial Reviews

Suzanne Finnamore
“Unremitting, elegant and dark. I believe every woman should get married at least once, and read this novel twice.”
Jill Davis
“Escapist fiction as its intriguing best. ‘The Bride Stripped Bare’ is sexy with a capital X.”
“The sex is rude and raunchy and exactly where you want it.”
Baltimore Sun
“A jazzy, nonlinear...narrative style as compelling and exotic as the landscape itself.”
London Times Literary Supplement
“Superbly executed: suspense, psychodrama, anger, tenderness and terror mingle with the restlessness of a vast , overpowering landscape.”
“A fierce, white–hot read.”
Vogue Australia
“Simply too beautiful...a mesmerizing and disquieting novel that will deserve to be read again.”
“Wonderfully sensuous...witty in its construction...a subtle portrait of a modern marriage.”
“Sexual awakening for the dark horse in us all.”
London Times
“A powerful novel that does not flinch from strong emotion or description...luminous.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Titillating…like an artful striptease, The Bride Stripped Bare ensnares us with its rawness.”
Dallas Morning News
“An intensely honest look at a woman’s inner thoughts and desires.”
Time Out New York
“One of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.”
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. (Mar.) Forecast: Gallons of ink have been spilled overseas about this one-most of it on the question of the author's anonymity (she's gone public there-or has been outed, depending on whom one asks). But there's little here that's shocking enough to justify the secrecy, so it's hard to imagine that there will be quite the same buzz stateside. The sex is explicit, but still rather tasteful. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
English-Australian Gemmell (Alice Springs, 1999, etc.) pens a strangely unnerving fourth novel in the second person, published anonymously in England last year, about the sexual tribulations of a bourgeois wife grasping for gratification within marriage and without. A journalism professor at the University of London marries in her mid-30s and quits her job at the urging of new husband, international art restorer Cole, to become a full-time wife. Months later, on a delayed honeymoon in Marrakech, she overhears Cole on the phone with her best friend, Theo, and decides the two must be having an affair-thus beginning her path of crushing emotional revenge in the form of frigid withdrawal and, eventually, full-blown sensuous enlightenment with Gabriel, a Spanish-English virgin actor. Little by little, addressing herself and the reader as "You," the unnamed narrator reveals some of her shockingly repressed secrets: she can't stand her husband in bed, and she's never, never had an orgasm. She wants to love her husband for his steady ability to provide, yet she gets enormous erotic charge by initiating Gabriel into her wildest secret desires. Her salvation, she decides, will come through writing a book, inspired by a medieval family heirloom called A Woemans Worth, written anonymously and espousing the substitution of a more able man in the place of an inadequate husband. The narrator finds new purpose both in marriage and affair by haunting the London Library for research and rendezvousing with Gabriel once a week. But when it comes time to make the right choice, will she return to the husband she doesn't love, ensuring a lifetime of devastation? The story is fashioned as something between adiary and a sexual primer, chock-full of women's feelings about sex and sexual fantasies of all sorts. Though already used to baring their souls on TV, American women might still cleave to Gemmell's stuttering earnestness. Proof that the feminist movement has brought women barely out of the Dark Ages.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.31(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Bride Stripped Bare
A Novel

Lesson 1

Honesty is of the utmost importance

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.

Lesson 2

Cold water stimulates, strengthens and braces the nerves

A honeymoon. A foreign land.

There you are, succumbing to the sexual ritual and remembering the day as a seven-year-old when you discovered water. You'd never been in a swimming pool before; there were none where you were growing up. You're remembering a summer holiday and a swimming pool with the water inching up your belly as you stepped forward gingerly and the slow creep of the cold and the breath collected in the knot of your stomach and your mother always there ahead of you, smiling and coaxing and holding out her hands and stepping back and back. Then suddenly, pop, you're floating and the water's holding your belly and legs like sinews of rope, it's muscular and balming and silky and the memory's as potent as a first kiss.

As for the first time you fucked, well, you remember the sound, as his fingers readied you between your legs, not much else. Not even a name now.

Lesson 3

Making a comfortable bed is a very important part of household work

In the night air of Marrakech, on your belated honeymoon, the first scrum of morning birds sounds like fat spitting and crackling in a kitchen. It's still dark but the birds have taken over from the frogs as crisply as if a conductor's lowered his baton. The call to prayer has pulled you awake and you can't fall back into sleep, you want to fling the french doors wide, as wide as they'll go, and inhale the strange desert dawn. But your husband, Cole, will wake and complain if you do.

So. You lay your hand on the jut of his hip and breathe in his sleeping, the sour, sweet smell of it, and smile softly in the dark. The tip of your nose nuzzles his scent on the back of his neck.

You've never loved anyone more in your life.

You slip on to the balcony. It's hot, 82 degrees at least. A wondrous child-smile greets a great spill of stars, for the vast orange glow from London's lights means you never see stars at home, scarcely know when there's a full moon. The night flowers exhale their bloom, bougainvillaea and hibiscus and magnolia are still and shadowy in the night. You feel fat with content. Cole calls out, plaintive, and you slip back inside and his arm wings your body and clamps you tight.

Your feet maneuver free of the sheet's smother and dangle off the edge of the bed, as they always do, finding the coolness and the air.

The Bride Stripped Bare
A Novel
. Copyright © by Nikki Gemmell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Nikki Gemmell is the internationally bestselling author of The Bride Stripped Bare and With My Body, as well as Shiver, Alice Springs, and The Book of Rapture. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her family.

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Bride Stripped Bare 2.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the dumba$$es complaining about the sexual content of this novel...what did you *think* it was about? To each their own in terms of what appeals to you regarding sex or reading material, but don't trash a book simply because you find the subject content taboo or inappropriate for your morals, etc. I personally think you're a bunch of hypocrites for reading a book that is clearly described as a tale of a woman's "sexual awakening" and then complaining about graphic sex scenes. One woman had the nerve to preach that what happens between her and her husband behind closed doors is sacred...then why are you reading about another woman's sex life??? And no one asked you about your own sex life anyway, prudie. Sheesh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not believe how well written this book is. I thought I would be upset on the diary style writting but no it put a nice twist on things. Women who are willing to open themselves up and look inside their mind, heart and body, will see themselves in these pages. What a delightful, thought provoking book!!! The end will leave you wanting more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will stir emotions -happiness, sadness, angst, sympathy, empathy, and leave you longing for more. Your heart will pound and it will break. The beautifully written prose is simple and yet, complex. There are words that you want to go back hang on to...nourish and dissect. Unforgettable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This should be labeled a graphic or erotic novel.
playlojloreal More than 1 year ago
I found this when I was looking around for books and picked it up, opened it, and was completely sucked into it. There are so many reasons why I love this book and I feel a major one is that she just lets go. She lets herself be free to sensuality, to try new things, to be erotic, and out of her normal comfort zone. To give into her mind and desires.

Parts of this book will also leave you with feelings of sadness and confusion, and bits of anger. I think the way it was written as a journal really made you feel like you were the character, like you were reading your own diary. I loved every bit of it. Borrowed it to a friend and never got it back. I am going to get it today so I can read it again = )
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. Intriguing and so graphic, I identified with many of the emotions and actions of the 'bride.' Evokes memories of an intensely erotic past relationship and a present yearning for the feelings and adventures long gone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book - the title alone caught my attention. Few days later, I finally got around to reading this. I couldn't peel myself away from the book. The diary captivated in her journey of sexual awakening and how I despited her husband Cole for denying her the ultimate sexual satisification and I hated her so-called best friend Diz for not being a true friend to her. But above all, I fell in love with Gabriel. It was really amazing how Nikki Gemmell was able to corporate an ancient Elizabethan manuscript with her 'diary'.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find graphic sex boring. I prefer the emotional space to create my own fantasy. In addition, does anyone out there realize HOW filthy the Elizabethans were????? They had no teeth for God's sake because they had all rotted out! Henry the VIII's queen lost all her babies not because she was infertile, but because of her disgustingly poor hygeine. This is not my idea of "hot". Try Daphne du Maurier for hot. Or maybe Jane Eyre.
charmgirlMD More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, this book grew on me... At first, after reading a few "lessons", I felt like I was getting a bit lost... I found myself re-reading a few lines for it to "sink in"... But, it soon picked up! The book is raw and explicit! I would and have recommended it to my friends!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So many lessons to learn! Very differently wrtten and yet holds my attention to the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished the bestseller GONE GIRL, so thought would enjoy another "diary entry" type book. So very wrong. This book only cost $3.99 from Nook; but it wasn't worth it. The characters were boring and flat, the plot was thin. And- the sex scenes were fairly tame compared to some others (such as FIFTY SHADES). Caught myself speed reading just to finish it. Sign of a bad book for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! The character explores aspects of her inner being and her relationships with those close to her with stark honesty. Many us do not consider ourselves to be sexual, sensual beings, never mind exploring our sexuality and pushing it to the limit. This is not a book for.prudes! Emotionally gripping and very well written. I loved it! Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sunnycee More than 1 year ago
A lot of these people leaving reviews haven't even read the novel! How can ANYONE judge a book's worth without at least reading a sample? That is ridiculous and anyone who hasn't read the book should not have written anything. Expressing your distaste over a book with graphic sex is NOT a review of the book. I understand some people may not like it and that is your choice but you are hurting an author's livelihood by leaving one and two star posts with no basis for your opinion on the content, which you have not read, based SOLELY on your own strict morals. That truly offends me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing style was hard to follow and the story was boring. There was very little character developement and it was hard to care for this very dishonest emotionally segmented woman. I did not find the sex to be overly graphic nor hot. This book bored me practically to tears!
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