30 years on, what I learnt about sex from Shirley Conran's Lace

I was around 13 or 14 when I read Lace by Shirley Conran. I guess I was young enough to not really understand a lot of it, but old enough to know that I couldn't wait to find out what all the dirty bits* meant...
Publish date:
July 11, 2012
literature, lace, sex books, Shirley Conran

However, a recent re-read to celebrate 30 years since it was published made me realise that I'd learned so much from Lace - not least how to use ice cubes to their best effect on a bound and gagged lover, and, of course, to beware Arabian princes with goldfish bowls besides their bed, lest they try and "push the wriggling creature" into me and then "langorously" suck it out again. (Seriously. It's on p292!).

Me & BookSeriously well-thumbed

What Lace mostly taught me was that sex could be amazing and that faking wasn't worth it. Kate faked until she fell in love with Tom and he called her on it and they embarked on weeks of trying everything to see what really did the trick (schmaltzy romance).

Unsatisfied in her marriage to Robert, Pagan worked out (with an egg-timer - love that detail) that she could make herself come in five minutes and confronted him with this.

I've read pretty much every 80s bonkbuster from Princess Daisy to Hollywood Wives and I can't recall any place where the female orgasm is examined, assessed and declared worth working at and fighting for like Conran does in Lace.

See terrified expression on fish-face. This fish has read Lace.

I'll confess, as a teenager, my most well-thumbed passages concerned Prince Abdullah, the Crown Prince of Sydon who had spent weeks as a 16 year old, being taught the art of imsak or as Shirley puts it, 'Abdullah was taught that his whole aim should be to avoid losing control of his body, and that this was best and most pleasantly avoided by concentrating his mind entirely on the woman.'

Take a moment to drink that one in. Yup, Abdullah, the 'Nijinsky of cunnilingus' put all thoughts of his own pleasure aside, for the greater pleasure of giving women 'the sort of unrestrained passion of which they had never dared to dream.'

I guess my whole life I've been looking out for my Abdullah (but with fewer bodyguards and guns and more of an interest noodling about cheese shops and wine places), not so much, 'some day my prince will come', as 'some day my prince will withhold his own orgasm so that I may go to town, bwahaha'. The search goes on...

*Yeah, I know it's not dirty - but hey, that's what we called it then. And 'dirty bits' it shall be called forever.