Psyche in a Dress

Psyche in a Dress

by Francesca Lia Block

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But this is what
I could not give up:
I could not give up myself

Psyche has known Love—scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061757020
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 298,190
File size: 705 KB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.

Read an Excerpt

Psyche in a Dress

By Francesca Block

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Francesca Block
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060763728


I am not a goddess
I am my father's

My father had me mutilated twice
He had my mother and sisters murdered more than once
but he has never killed me off
sometimes I think he only gave me life
so I could be his muse, his actress

They say he does things with me
to work through issues he had with my mother
I look just like her in the early films but
now she is gone

In the first film I had to take off my top
I stood there, shivering
with my hands covering my breasts
as the cameras were rolling
A million caterpillars crawled over my bones
and my stomach was filled with the wings of dying moths
But I knew what I had to do

I am an actress
I am my father's
I do my job

It was easier after that
I got used to all the crew watching
My father watching
People said that I was odd-looking
not the typical face you see
but my father tells me I am perfect, just what he wants
My father says
"These actors, they try to do too much
You know how to just be
Don't try to do anything else
You are an actress
My princess"

I live with my father
in a dirty-white mansion
made of the bones and teeth of actors
It has been the scene of manyatrocities
in my father's films
There are crumbling columns in front
and a dining room we never use
with a giant chandelier from which
one of my father's characters hung herself
There is a huge tiled pool
surrounded by crumbling, headless, limbless statues
ficus trees entwined with morning glories
beds of calla lilies
and oleander bushes
I can see the pool from my window empty
my father rarely fills it with water
It was used for a drowning in another film
I have a large room
with a large bed draped in diaphanous fabrics
I have my own bathroom with a sunken tub and a view
through glass walls
of my private, somewhat overgrown rose garden
peeling white iron chairs and mossy fountains
I have a walk-in closet of my mother's designer clothes
In one interview I read
my mother said that she sold her soul for that wardrobe
A black satin-trimmed smoking jacket and trousers
a white satin-trimmed smoking jacket and matching satin skirt, a golden pleated
chiffon Grecian gown, a golden sweater covered with gemstones, a white silk
wrap dress covered with giant red peonies, a pink suit with a short jacket
and skirt, shift dresses in white, black, red sapphire, emerald and
tangerine silk or satin, some with large bows in back, piles of cashmere
sweaters in lipstick colors, some with silk flowers from obis appliquéd on
them, and many, many shoes

When my mother left us, she took only a black suit
a pair of jeans, a red silk blouse
her jewels and five pairs of the shoes
Sometimes I lie awake at night
wondering how she chose them
I knew which ones they were
because I knew her wardrobe better than she did:
black leather riding boots
black lizard pumps
strappy golden sandals
ruby red flats
emerald green satin dancing shoes with ankle straps
I was so jealous of those shoes
Sometimes I put on one of the dresses
light candles
and dance with my mother's shadow
Most of the time, at night, I use only candles in my room
waiting for her to come back
Even a wraith is better than nothing
even a silhouette on the wall

My father's new girlfriend, Aphrodite
wanted to be the star of his film
and he wouldn't replace me
Once I heard him saying to her, "She's seventeen!
She's seventeen!
What do you expect?"
Enraging her even more
They screamed at each other all night
Until the chandelier shattered
And a thousand swallows flew through the open window
whirring their wings
In the morning she was gone
but she was not finished

One night I was lying in my bed
wearing an antique cotton nightgown
white as a bride
My father was out drinking with his producer
It was completely dark
Not even the candles were lit
I could have been abandoned
on a mountaintop--
the wind in my chest
was that cold
That was when you came
Through the open window
with the night-blooming jasmine
that grows up the old stone garden wall
You knelt beside my bed and put your head near mine
You whispered, "I just want to lie beside you tonight
I won't hurt you"

I was afraid at first
Lay very still, waiting for pain
It felt like a scene from one of my father's movies
The killer with the beautiful voice
For a moment I wondered
if my father had staged the whole thing
If he had a camera somewhere?
I wouldn't put it past him

You only talked to me
You said, "Tell me"
You asked, "Do you think Love and Soul are the same?
If not, how does the Soul earn Love?
How does Love find his Soul?
Can one exist without the other?
If Love and the Soul had a child
what would her name be?"

"Tell me your name," I said
"You already know
If you are Soul
I am the other one"

I heard the sea in your voice--
sheer waves breaking on pale powdered sand
I heard the glossy rustlings of the cypress and olive trees--
the footsteps of maenads and panpipes playing
echoing caves in the mountains--
cloven hooves striking the rock
At their approach birds took flight into the white skies
After a long time I fell asleep

In the morning you were gone

But you came
again and again
I asked to see you but you said
that was the one rule
I couldn't put on
the light
Even so, I asked you to lie beside me
After a while I reached out
and held your hand
"I'm so crazy," I said
"What's wrong with me?
You come through my window at night
I haven't seen your face
And I want you"


Excerpted from Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Block Copyright © 2006 by Francesca Block. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Psyche in a Dress 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Rhinoa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting book that is prose but reads like poetry. It follows Psyche through her life interposing it upon Greek myths. She begins starring in her fathers violent and explicit films. A victim of abuse she finds it hard to let herself be loved. She makes her own choices, but these are not always the best ones and she loses her main love when she listens to the advice of others.The tale comes full circle as she later has a daughter of her own and watches her make the same choices she did. It's like she is following her own footsteps through life, but she has to let her daughter go her own way like she did.Mature themes and concepts, this is a short read but one that will stay with me for a long time. I love that she blends in the mythological aspects which is an interest of mine. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future. I wonder if any of her novel mirrors her life as some of the characters reminded me very strongly of certain famous people.
EKAnderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Psyche in a Dress is a sexy, emotionally raw novella written in verse form using classical mythology against the backdrop of hollywood. Our heroine is a young actress, used by her father in films, missing her mother who left when she was younger, and connecting to her through the dresses she left behind. When her first lover, Eros, leaves her upon seeing his face, Psyche embarks on a journey to achieve the same happiness she felt with him, always hoping she might win him back. She takes on the roles of other mythological heroines - Eurydice, Echo, Persephone - as she meets each new lover, who, inevitably, cannot replace Eros. While the verse form doesn't seem to lend itself to this story any better or worse than straight prose, it doesn't detract from it either, and the book is gripping from the first page, enticing you to peek into the life of the young girl as she struggles with her identity and relationships. The book does suffer slightly from the confusing nature of renaming the character periodically, Block does a decent job of disambiguating through recollection of past experiences as the story moves on. And while maybe a bit too erotic for some, Psyche in a Dress is a more than refreshing read for anyone willing to explore teenage sexuality.
connlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book follows Psyche as she grows up under the abusive thumb of her film producer father (Zeus). She has a brief affair with a mysterious stranger (Eros). Then she becomes Echo as she dates the self-absorbed film star (Narcissus). Afterward she morphs into Eurydice to be with artistic Orpheus. As she leaves home to find herself, she lands in the dark underworld of society as Persephone, the consort to Hades. After her mother (Demeter) finds her... she starts to alternate living in depravity with Hades and living with in a sea-side cottage with her mother. Eventually Psyche returns to home and works for her father¿s girlfriend (Aphrodite). She rediscovers Eros who turns out to be Aphrodite¿s son. Psyche then gives birth to Joy and learns to live without ¿Love as a man,¿ thus becoming Demeter.This book is better suited for high school or adult readers. It helps to have some background in Greek mythology before reading the book or the ¿story¿ may become ¿lost in translation.¿ The free verse/prose format and frank sexual language may not be suited for younger audiences. However, it could promote interesting discussions in a mythology classroom.
thioviolight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this a beautiful and lyrical tale, and enjoyed the modern myth. It shares lessons about life and growing up, the experience of love and growing old. A very worthwhile read.
bellediablerie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Francesca Lia Block has provided us with a romantically dark look at sensuality and sexuality with the book Psyche in a Dress and uses characters from Greek mythology to do it. It is a very erotic book even though there is no gratutious sex, and as one reads it they cannot help but feel the love and heartbreak that the main character feels as the story progresses. Someone unfamiliar with Greek mythology might be confused by this story and the style is not for everyone, but all in all it is an amazing book that most any female would enjoy reading.
Nickelini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a highly unconventional little book. Using Greek myths and characters, it tells the story of a young woman raised by dysfunctional Hollywood parents. Block uses evocative, poetic language to describe both whimsy and horror. At first I thought it was very pretentious, but that impression didn't last long as I was swept up by the beautiful language and unusual story.I found this on the sale table in the teen section. I've always considered YA books to be aimed at teens, but in this case I think this book is really is adult. Not just because of the dysfunctional sex, and drug use, but because of all the allusions to Greek myths and also the emotions of motherhood. I wouldn't have a problem with a mature teen reading it, but I just don't think they'd appreciate it. Anyway, I liked it.Recommended for: people who like retellings of myths and fairy tales, people who like urban fantasy, people looking for something interesting and different.
paisley1974 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It wasn't as easy to jump into as the Weetzie Bat books, but it had a really interesting depth to it. I really enjoyed her unique perspective on myth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
miztrebor More than 1 year ago
I read Block’s Weetzie Bat a few years ago, and I think that helped prepare me for reading this book. Block has an interesting way with language that is beautiful to read, but can also lead to some minor confusion and rereading. It’s not a fault in the writing though. It helps it stand out and allows for the story to do interesting things.   Block takes well known myths and weaves them together into a set of modern day characters. It’s often hard to tell where the myth and the “real world” aspects of the story are because of the blending and language used. But there’s a beauty to how this story is told. I feel that I’ll need to go back and read it again some time down the road to full appreciate it, though. I wasn’t until about halfway through that I was able to find the flow through the verse, especially with it’s lack of punctuation.   I’d be very interested in reading some other poetry (non verse novel works), after reading this. I’ll have to go see if there’s any out there.   If you’re looking for something different, something that might not “click” right away but will make you think and pay attention, this might be a book to check out.
Lilly_The_Hornet More than 1 year ago
i loved this book. short read but i love the writing and the over all story.i highly recommend this book.
Lexee Hill More than 1 year ago
the first book i read by flb got me completely hooked. i read in one night and fell in love wih her unique imagery and dreamy flow. this book truly takes you to another land! brilliant.
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kokonutz_rox More than 1 year ago
great poetry, fast read, read this in about 30 min. imagery is wonderful. some parts were odd but it was still very very good.
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Francesca Lia Block puts her powerful prose to work in this stunningly simple, yet amazingly complex book. We follow a teenaged girl, known as Psyche, throughout her life, which mirrors the stories in several Greek myths.

An actress in her father's odd, violent movies, Psyche considers herself her father's muse, who took over when her mother left. At night, she is visited by Love himself, who tells her that she is Soul. Her lover brings the sound of the ocean with him, the taste of citrus spray on her lips, and tales of long ago to her ears. She loves this man, but has no idea what he looks like, for he has forbid her to turn on the light when he is with her. Cajoled by her sisters, Psyche's doubts begin to grow, and she breaks the rules by lighting a candle. Only then does she discover that she is in love with a god, and she does not deserve him.

After he leaves, Psyche's life spirals into the pits of hell as she tries to win Love back. Throughout random affairs, abusive relationships, and a reunion with her mother, Psyche realizes how she is playing out the tales that Love told her long ago. She probably will never find Love again, but perhaps she can be worthy of him, someday.

A quick read with mature themes, this book will leave the reader begging for more, tempted by the satisfying banquet of words this story presents.
kaydanielle More than 1 year ago
This book is so poetic, lyric, dream like, and at the same time raw and realistic, that I can't stop re-reading it. While its a very wuick read, the stroy and caracters really draw you in. It is a very unique take on mythology that almost makes you forget that the characters are mythological in the first place. these characters are so real and so raw, that you cant help but to relate to them. Reading this makes you look at things in a new light - a much more interesting light. When you are reading this you feel like you are the characters. When I was reading this I could practically taste, feel, smell and see everything that was being described. It is a truely mystical, dreamy, raw, luminous, and heartbreaking story. Francesca Lia Block's writing is so surreal and beautiful in this book and I would definitally recommend it for anyone who has read any of her other books, or anybody that is looking for a quick, captivating read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Francesca Lia Block is one of my favorite authors. I love how her writing is so poetic, almost like you feel the words. This book is one of her best, in my opinion, and is a definite read for anyone that loves romantic, poetic, lyrical novels full of juicy description of the not-so-bland world surrounding us. Five stars!