Return to the Chateau - erotic fiction by Ballantine Books - review by Lara

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Return to the Chateau

Book by Ballantine Books

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O's Unworthy Successor

If Story of O represents the best in erotic fiction, Return to the Chateau represents the most mediocre of the genre. It may be a sequel to Story of O in plot, but it is a far cry from the original. Where O's plot flowed, Return to the Chateau stumbles. Where O captivated, Chateau bores. At the end of the day, I felt this to be little more than a morality tale of what happens to wanton women who pursue their desires rather than live a life of proper chastity.
Published:
Pros:
now you finally know what happens to O after Story of O ends
Cons:
a world away from Story of O in terms of plot and character development
Rating by reviewer:
2
extremely useful review
For the sake of clarity... This is not a sequel to Story of O in the sense of it having been written for that specific purpose. It is a final section of Story of O that was pruned from the original book before its publication.

I am not clear on whether that removal was done with or without Reage's consent, but the title page to Return to the Chateau provides us with Reage's own view on the subject: "The pages that follow are a sequel to Story of O. They deliberately suggest the degradation of that work, and cannot under any circumstances be integrated into it."

Reage considered Return to the Chateau a "degradation" of Story of O?! I agree with the author. It would have been tragic to include this in O. As it stands, it's an unworthy successor. The greatest pity of it all is that my reading of O changed after reading Return to the Chateau.

Whereas we saw Roissy as a training center in O, in Return it is a brothel and restaurant (where the prostitutes do double duty as both whores and waitresses). Sir Stephen abandons O in Roissy and there she remains to serve any man who may desire her. That's the story. Occasionally she's pensive, worrying about whether or not she'll she Sir Stephen again. Other times she's drawn in to the tedium of daily life at Roissy. That's the extent of her emotional spectrum. That's the range of the plot.

If you just have to read it, then by all means get a copy of Return to the Chateau. Think a moment before you do. When Story of O ended, there existed a world of possibility for O. We didn't know what would become of her. With Return to the Chateau, we do know what happens to her. We follow her journey back to Roissy and see her debase herself in ways that are much more profound than sexual submission. She becomes a waitress and a prostitute. While she remains in chains, she seems to lose her spirit and her joy.

I don't think that stories always require clear or happy endings. Sometimes life fails to provide us with answers. Story of O didn't have those answers and was better for it. Return to the Chateau does provide those answers and I'm sorry to know them.
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Comments
  • Cock Wrangler
    I wonder what the back story is on this piece, why it was removed and printed separately and why it's so different from the original text.
  • Snappy
    I found this book to be such a disappointment after "Story of O." Maybe my expectations were too high but it really sucked by comparison.
  • Lara
    I don't think your expectations were too high at all, Snappy. It did suck. It was a huge, huge disappointment for me as well.

    I don't know if I've got this anti-corporate bias going on right now or if I'm just irritated by The Man, but the first impression I had from this book was... before going to publication the editor (rightfully) thought this part was crap and left it out... Story of O comes out and sells really well... someone digs the old manuscript out of a drawer and publishes the rest of O because they think they can capitalize on O's commercial success... Pauline Reage can't legally do anything about it but pens that little sentence (I quoted in my review) to protest it.

    All of the above is pure speculation, but damn. This book just makes me want to rant. I'm sure I'll be getting my tin foil hat in the mail shortly.
  • thedude
    hmm, ok
  • Jon S
    thank you
  • tortilla
    it seems the first book was good - I think I should buy the first book instead of this one. Thanks for the info
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