Playing

Playing

3.5 4
by Melanie Abrams
     
 

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Melanie Abrams’s debut novel is a provocative tale about love, betrayal, and how one young woman’s unconventional sexual reawakening uncovers the most guarded parts of her past.

When Josie, an anthropology grad student, is unexpectedly offered a job as the nanny for six-year-old Tyler, she innocently accepts. Though Josie doesn’t necessarily

Overview

Melanie Abrams’s debut novel is a provocative tale about love, betrayal, and how one young woman’s unconventional sexual reawakening uncovers the most guarded parts of her past.

When Josie, an anthropology grad student, is unexpectedly offered a job as the nanny for six-year-old Tyler, she innocently accepts. Though Josie doesn’t necessarily need the job, there’s something about Tyler’s single mom, Mary--her beauty, her confidence, her resemblance to Josie’s mother--that draws Josie in. While her quick intimacy with Mary soothes Josie’s estrangement from her own parents, it also breeds betrayal when Josie falls for Mary’s crush, Devesh. An Indian surgeon ten years Josie’s senior, Devesh is a strong and enigmatic man who pulls Josie into a dizzying world of sexual domination and submission that speaks to her deeply hidden desires. It is a world of games that fast becomes serious, forcing Josie to confront the darkest moments of her past as she desperately struggles with her family history, her own violent impulses, and her love for Devesh.

Rapturous, illuminating, and emotionally charged, Playing is an unflinching look at the irrevocable consequences of giving in to our most secret passions, and the freedom and imprisonment that comes with true self-knowledge.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Abrams's debut novel is a revealing look inside the mind of a woman who enjoys being beaten, shamed and dominated by her lover. While pursuing her studies, 27-year-old anthropology graduate student Josie works as a nanny for a single mother with a special-needs son and a baby girl. While Josie may at first seem like a wholesome young woman, it isn't long before she's sneaking out in the middle of the night to rendezvous with her older Indian doctor lover, Devesh, who recognizes her sadomasochistic desires. With great excitement, she allows herself to be bound and whipped, fulfilling her desire to "play." As Josie falls in love with Devesh, their bedroom escapades become increasingly brutal, and she struggles to make sense of her need for sexual violence as she explores her relationship with her mother and confronts her guilt about the death of her infant brother, who died under murky circumstances when she was a little girl. The narrative moves fast, and the stark swirl of sex, violence and near-madness will please readers with a dark bent. (Apr.)

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Kirkus Reviews
A woman's sadomasochistic tendencies are traceable to childhood trauma in Abrams's titillating debut. Josie is a graduate student studying anthropology. Mary, whose cool, competent air reminds her of her distant mother, hires Josie as a live-in nanny for Tyler, six, and toddler Maddie. Josie is particularly drawn to Tyler-they share a quasi-autistic fascination with counting and tabulating. When Josie encounters Devesh, a surgeon from India, she senses that Devesh is the man she has been hungering for-a dominant male who will help her realize her darkest masochistic sexual fantasies. Soon she's spending hours at Devesh's pad being "disciplined"-bound with leather cuffs and whipped with a variety of implements; or "punished" -beaten with less finesse and no concern for her gratification. She's not bothered by the bruising consequences of acting out her obsession, nor does she care to plumb the psychological truth behind her predilection. It's only when she entertains fantasies of spanking Tyler and Maddie and comes within hairbrush length of paddling Tyler that she starts to think she may have a problem. Her need for self-analysis is accelerated by her mother's sudden death. Called to California for the funeral, she's forced to confront grim realities: Her mother stopped loving her after her infant brother's crib death when Josie was four, and now it's too late to rectify or rehabilitate their relationship. She feels unworthy of her father's love because, as a repressed memory will reveal, she was complicit in the death that eviscerated her family's happiness. This complicity apparently underlies her perversion of choice. Once she gains this insight and confesses to her father, it'sunclear-and some readers may be disappointed by this facile outcome-whether she's going to alter her behavior or continue to indulge in it, shame-free. The detail devoted to the erotic role-playing of Devesh and Josie make it difficult to view them as fully rounded characters or to much care whether they can reform their love along less deviant lines. Agent: Christy Fletcher/Fletcher & Perry

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802170477
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/11/2008
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.57(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.77(d)

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Playing 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Katie7 More than 1 year ago
Very boring!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
although i am only half way done with the book i really like it,great story would like to see more from this writer