Goodreads doesn't have a summary up yet, so here's the one from Netgalley:
In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet's final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning readers that this perverse fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities. It tells the story of Gigi, also known as Djinn, who is being schooled by her father to be a perfect slave and mistress. Running the gamut of unacceptable subject matter from incest to torture, this book abounds with vignettes that explore taboos and their representation in fiction, from the Brothers Grimm to the Marquis de Sade. It is titillating and disgusting, the work of a dirty old man or brilliant agent provocateur -- or both.
I applied for A SENTIMENTAL NOVEL because it sounded controversial. I don't really enjoy books of this nature, but hey- it was free, newly translated, & I figured it could be entertaining.
I made the mistake of reading the preface where I learned several things about the author that really disturbed me, & indicated that I might have many reasons not to like this novel. For starters, A SENTIMENTAL NOVEL is about sadism. Not the vanilla kind of sadism that has become so popular in NA romances (handcuffs? please), but, like, screaming, Nightmare on Elm Street run-to-mommy type sadism. The type that Marquis de Sade was famous for.
We all have limits. I can't stand seeing human beings tortured. Robbe-Grillet does not share that problem. The female characters in this book experience HORRIBLE ACTS OF TORTURE, like being whipped on their crotches as they pee, having their vaginas sawed open, and, oh, yes, getting red hot irons being put on their breasts. Doesn't that sound fun? NO? I DON'T THINK SO EITHER.
What makes it more disturbing is that all the female characters are underage. Obviously, no one should have to endure stuff like this, but the fact that these are children experiencing such things makes it way worse. A baby is tortured too, and the narrator observes that you can tell it's a female baby because of the "precociously sexy" expressions it makes. That made me even angrier and more disgusted, because it gave words to the theme that had heretofore been implicit: that the women in this story had done something to deserve these punishments, & were nothing more than objects.
I thought I'd give this a try because it was different, but I just can't do it. I can't believe that there are people in the world who find stuff like this erotic. It's horrific and inhuman. & it perpetuates rape culture in a way that is nightmarish in the extreme. Nobody deserves...this. Nobody.
0 out of 5 stars.