Once upon a time, a woman wrote a book about vampires. It was a bit sexy and a bit problematic and quite popular, so somebody else wrote some stories based on the same characters. Then she rewrote them as a book with different names and a different setting, and this was also (by all accounts) a bit sexy and quite popular, and really quite a lot problematic.
And then yet another writer came along and said “you know what? I think I could do better. I can take away all the Problematic and make this even sexier in the process.” And she did.
(Warning: Do not be misled by the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ focus of other posts. This book is really very not suitable for children.)
Emily Foster is Emily Nagoski, professional sex educator and writer of the Dirty Normal. She spends a lot of time thinking and talking and writing about sex and consent, and part of the mission of this book is to demonstrate that consent is really very, very sexy. I think her mission has been accomplished.
‘How Not To Fall’ succeeds as a romantic/erotic novel, in a light and easy to read kind of way. This is not really my genre, but I think it would be quite entertaining enough on face value. It’s a good story, they’re fun characters, and the sex is plenty sexy.
It caters to my personal tastes in a way which is almost freakishly serendipitous. This story has academia, and over-achievement, and dance, and teaching and learning, and beautiful-but-damaged, and to cap it all, rock climbing. It’s almost as if it had been written for me (and even more so for two-years-ago me who started reading it online and was gutted when the serialisation disappeared).
And it works on a geeky, referential, clever-clever way, as an active comparison with ’50 Shades’. So many of the main components are there: the beautiful, rich, emotionally damaged older man; the awkward, inexperienced young woman; the desire to dominate and be dominated. Even the irritating ‘young-person-speak’ is maintained, transformed to become a readable and believable illustration of the protagonist’s character and naivety – as I suspect it was intended to be in the original, only in this case it didn’t make me want to tie the book to a heavy object and throw it through the nearest window.
Consent is sexy, y’know.