by Jillian Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some Girls / 978-0-452-29631-2
I have a weakness for "harem" novels and polygamous tell-alls, so I was excited to pick up "Some Girls" at my local library. Told in biography form, "Some Girls" follows the life of a young woman as she escapes a toxic home environment, dabbles as a teenager in sex work, and is eventually hired as one of hundreds of paid "harem girls" for a modern royal family.
What is most fascinating about "Some Girls" is that, from the author's perspective at least, many of the women hired into the situation with her fall into the same political-maneuvering and petty feuding that is seen in historical harems and modern polygamous families. This is rather startling, because it can be fairly certain that the women in "Some Girls" signed on purely for the money (or at least, not for love or compatibility or companionship, as opposed to ostensible modern marriages), and their employer holds no real power over them worth fighting for - the women can apparently leave at any time (although the author is coy about this - she does note that their passports are held for "safekeeping") and outside of a few lavish "bonuses" such as jewelry and clothing, the women seem to be paid ostensibly the same, regardless of their relative favor with their employer.
Most readers would expect that, given the necessity, they would take the "little effort for a small fortune" option over the highly stressful "constant jockeying for favor and backbiting while having unprotected sex with an emotionally unavailable control freak for a slightly larger fortune" option. Some of the women do opt for this method, of course, but the surprising majority seem to be immediately and intensely caught up with the fantasy of being their employer's beloved - despite many of them being experienced sex workers. From a psychological standpoint, this is very fascinating, especially as the author begins to spiral down the rabbit-hole of her own infatuation with her employer.
"Some Girls" isn't the sort of book that's going to make you feel good about humanity or broaden your horizons to any new beauty. Almost everything about the novel hurts deeply to discover: Why would two childless people go to all the trouble and difficulty to adopt only to abuse their adopted children so horribly? Why would a man so rich and powerful and with so many options for self-improvement be so emotionally damaged and controlling that the only women he can coax into his bed have to be bought with outrageous sums of money? Why would young women, presented with said outrageous sums of money, proceed to then offer wholesale their love, dignity, and self-respect? There's nothing wholesome about "Some Girls", and yet, if you're interested at all in the psychology of the human condition, it's very much worth a read, and I confess I couldn't put it down from start to finish.
~ Ana Mardoll
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