Monday, April 5, 2010

From the Top Shelf - 9 1/2

These are excerpts from two early chapters in 9 1/2 Weeks by Elizabeth McNeill. It's before they start the serious BDSM part of their relationship, but it's imminent.

We're doing errands: supermarket, liquor store, dry cleaner's, drugstore. It's a lovely early June. We spend a long time at the toothpaste counter: he is giving dramatic recitals of competing TV commercials...Twice I ask out loud, "How can I be so happy?" Each time he smiles at me, a delighted grin, and shifts both shopping bags onto one arm to hug my shoulders with the other.

We are both laden down with packages when he says, "I have to get one more thing." And hails a cab. We end up in Brooklyn, at a small, obscure hunting store. There are two clerks, one dignified and elderly, one in his teens, no other customers. He is pricing insulated vests, the kind to be worn under windbreakers.

I put my parcels on a chair, walk around, get bored, sit down on the edge of an old mahogany desk, pick up and leaf through a three-year-old New Yorker, which miraculously looks brand new.

"This one, I guess," he says. I look over at the counter, he is looking back at me. He is holding a riding crop.

"I'd like to try it out." There is a peculiar shift; from one second to the next I have become disoriented, I am on alien territory, in a foreign century. He walks a few steps to where I am half-sitting on the desk, one foot on the floor, the other dangling. He pulls my skirt up over my left leg, which is resting on the desk, steps back, and strikes me across the inner thigh. The searing pain is an inextricable part of a wave of excitement that robs me of breath and speech and the ability to move; every cell in my body is awash with lust.

It is silent in the small, dusty room. The clerks behind the counter have frozen. He slowly smooths down my skirt and turns to the older man, who is wearing a suit and still looks like an accountant, though a deep flush is spreading upward from his shirt collar.

"This one will do."

He fed me. He bought all food, cooked all meals, washed all dishes.

He dressed me...

He read to me endlessly...

Every three days he washed my hair. He dried it with my hand dryer and was clumsy at it only the first two times. One day he bought an outrageously expensive Kent of London hairbrush and beat me with it that evening. Its bruises persisted beyond all others. But every night he used to brush my hair. Neither before or since has my hair been brushed so thoroughly, for such long periods at a time, so lovingly. It shone.

He ran my bath every night, experimenting with different gels, crystals and oils, taking an adolescent girl's delight in buying great varieties of bath products for me... I never stopped to contemplate what his cleaning woman thought of the whip lying on the kitchen counter, of the handcuffs dangling from the dining room doorknob, of the snakes' heap of narrow, silvery chains coiled in the corner of the bedroom. I did idly wonder what she thought of this sudden proliferation of jars and bottles, nine barely-used shampoos crowding the medicine chest, eleven different bath salts lined up on the edge of the tub.

From Hermione's Heart


PK said...

I was a member of a book club when this book came out, I was 21 years old. I ordered it and it was so much more than I expected. It spoke to me so much I kept it hidden in my underwear drawer for years (its on my shelf now). Years later, and long before I came out to Nick, we rented the movie. Not as good as the book but pretty good. LJ was conceived that night!! LOL!


Daisychain said...

oh, my! Not a book I could have in MY daughter is an avid reader and finds books she hasn't read with the skill of a sniffer

Florida Dom said...


I loved the book except for the ending which made it sound as if they were sick.

When it came out, it spoke to my fantasies at a time when I wasn't really there were many people out there with my fantasies.

Btw, the woman who actually it has never come forward.

By contrast, the woman who wrote the Story of O as a tribute to her Master has been identified and was chronicled in a documentary film called "Writer of O.''

And if the book helped PK cconceive a son, all the better!!!!!

ronnie said...

It was amazing that she had this published back in the 70's, a very controversial subject.
I read it when it first came out. Wished I still had it. I may just have to see if I can track one down.

Hope you will share more with us Hermione.


K said...

Never read it but loved the movie. I'm sure the book is better as they always are.

Hermione said...

PK - How cool is that? ANd I agree, the movie wasn't nearly as good.

Daisy - Too bad. Not even in your underwear drawer?

FD - I agree, the ending was a big disappointment and I really didn't understand it.

Ronnie - I really don't remember any controversy, but then, I didn't have much access to the media then, since I didn't have a TV at university or for a couple of years after.

Kat5 - Welcome! Yes, the book is way better.


turiya said...

Seems like an intriguing book... I'll have to check it out.


Anonymous said...

Hello Hermione, I saw the movie, but never read the book. I was a bit disappointed when John threatened to spank Elizabeth and then never did it. Is that how it happened in the book too, or was it just taken out of the film version?