Nikki Gemmell - The Bride Stripped Bare

Nikki Gemmell - The Bride Stripped Bare

Nikki Gemmell - The Bride Stripped BareJuly 31 2003 - Author stripped bare as sex novel touches raw nerve. Nikki Gemmell had hoped to anonymously explore issues of sex, identity and fulfilment in her latest book.

Her book may be called The Bride Stripped Bare, but for Nikki Gemmell it is more a case of the author stripped bare.

Her book may be called The Bride Stripped Bare, but for Nikki Gemmell it is more a case of the author stripped bare.

She originally wanted to publish her frank novel about sex inside and outside a marriage anonymously but was unmasked as its author almost as soon as she had signed a publishing contract.

She was reduced to tears on ABC radio this week when her motives for that anonymity were questioned; and, to add insult to injury, her luggage was lost during her domestic flight to Melbourne, leaving her with only the clothes she had on.

Gemmell, 36, the London-based Australian author of three other novels, Shiver, Cleave and Love Song, and mother of two little boys, said yesterday that she had no idea who had given her name to the British media after her book had been sold at last year's Frankfurt Book Fair. But she denied that it had been a cynical commercial move.

She had wanted to write "scrupulously honestly about sex in marriage and beyond it"under her own name but found it impossible. She was too inhibited.

"When I made the decision to abandon the initial idea for the book and go anonymous, it was like a kind of reckless freedom,"she said yesterday.

In part, she said, the best-seller was written in response to an anonymous 17th-century text about a woman's attitude to sex. "I was fascinated that hers was a stronger, more sexually confident voice than one particular woman in 2003 living through all the advances of feminism we've had."

Gemmell was also responding to giving up a career and becoming a mother. She felt a "sense of erasure for me as a woman"and writing the book allowed her to establish control again. "I was fascinated by the whole loss of identity as a woman,"she explained.

The book tells of an emotionally fulfilled but sexually frustrated married woman who embarks on sexual adventures to restore her sense of self.

The Bride Stripped Bare is classified as a novel but Gemmell describes it as a blend of fiction and non-fiction.

She had not expected her husband to read it. "I was really worried because there is a lot of me in there,"she said. "It is very raw, and very vulnerable. And he would see a side of me that he never knew."

While conceding that the "spotlight of honesty can be brutal and harsh", Gemmell was surprised that her husband had found the book erotic.

"I felt I was disappearing into that world of motherhood and he's noticed me again. I never anticipated that."

Nevertheless, she believes "the shakedown"from the book will take several years. "It's touched a raw nerve, certainly for me, and I didn't realise it was such a raw nerve for women out there,"she said.

Next year she has to face publication in the United States.

For now, she can't wait to get on her flight today and head home to London. Then there's a family holiday in France. "No emails, no phone. It'll be bliss."

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Nikki Gemmell - The Bride Stripped Bare 

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