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In her book, Nymphomania, the author – Kyoko Church – discusses this delicate condition in the heart of the 19th century farmland and the ignorance of the medical world on the subject of “female inflictions’. It is a world where ignorance and jealousy rules the medical world. The medical ‘experts’ of the era, in their pursuit of fame and new treatments, often cause their patients more harm and psychological scars than any medieval torture ever did. Kyoko Church - Nymphomania

In the 19th century the knowledge of female body and her physiology was very scarce. It wasn’t until the 1953 when Kinsey’s controversial work, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female revealed the secrets of a female body and its sexual needs. But in the midst of Victorian era it was believed by many medical experts of the era that a woman, especially a married woman, when fulfilling her duties as a wife does not feel the same passion nor does she need to experience the same arousal as a man.Women experiencing orgasms where unheard of or at least not discussed of in a polite society. As a result, no one knew about the behavioural and physiological changed occurring in a female body during orgasms nor has anyone thought that a woman could or needed to reach a similar sexual completion as men did.

But for now let me introduce the dramatis personae of this story. We meet Ewan Draper, a prominent land owner, and a known playboy and a favourite among the employees of the local brothel. To keep up appearance of the religiously zealous Boston society he is advised to marry, and continue to visit the pleasure house yet under the pretence of leading a well established life of a married man. His choice is Lillianne, one of his mill girls. Already enamoured with her handsome employer, she enthusiastically indulges in a sexual intercourse at the back of the mill and accepts his proposal. Ewan, smitten by the beauty and passion of his young fiancée, is enjoying the prospect of spending the rest of his days and nights in Lillianne’s passionate embrace. However, he decides to stay chaste until the wedding night. There and then, after quickly satisfying his needs, he leaves Lillianne unfulfilled and disappointed. Left to her own devises she pleasures herself with a desperation and abandonment of the days and nights of unspent sexual energy and empty promises. Discovered red-handed by her husband, she is proclaimed a whore and a disgrace to the household. He promptly calls his friend, studying to become a doctor, to take care of his disturbed wife. And, as you might have guessed, that is when the true drama of the story begins.

 

*POTENTIAL SPOILERS*

When Lillianne is found masturbating, she is diagnosed with nymphomania. As it turns out, the medical world of that time already knew about this condition, however there were no known cures. An unchartered territory, a dangerous weapon in wrong hands. Left no other choice Ewan calls his friend, Dr Philip Samms, who devotes his time to studying Lillianne’s condition. More and more fascinated by Lillianne’s sexual abandonment and responsiveness to various stimuli, he is growing more wicked and less professional with each passing ‘session’, in the same time keeping Ewan blissfully unaware of his ministrations. From a beautiful and passionate woman Lillianne is degraded into a study object, spread-eagled and manacled, told to hold off her natural reactions while the ‘good’ doctor masturbates her into blissful ecstasy.

I must say that it was very difficult to read some passages referring to the ‘treatment’. I felt deeply for Lillianne’s innocence and for her solitude. She did not have a single soul to turn to, to seek solace and understanding. As much as I wanted to blame Ewan for exposing Lillianne to such an inhuman treatment, I do understand his inability to confront his friend about his ‘scientific’ methods. After all, he wanted nothing more that to get Lillianne better. However, he soon finds that he enjoyed her passion and is grows weary and suspicious about the whole medical process. Unfortunately, not soon enough.

This combination of Lillianne’s emotional torment, Samms’s wickedness, and Ewan’s lack of response and ignorance creates an emotionally tormenting concoction and a powerful read. Highly recommended. For now, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the instalments in The Draper Estate trilogy.

The book has been published by Xcite Books and is currently available for purchase from Amazon Kindle UK, Kindle US and Barnes&Nobles.

 

N.B. The book made me think about a fabulous film from 2012, Hysteria, about the development of the very first vibrator to treat a very common case of hysteria among the women of certain age. And all that taking place in the rigid atmosphere of the ‘proper’ 19th century England. If you haven’t watched it yet – do and soon. Tip – Rupert Everett is in it!

 

dramatis personae