The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker
by Suzanne Portnoy, contemporary (2013, reissue)
Black Lace Books, £7.99, ISBN 978-0-352347-63-3

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker was previously published in 2006, and is recently reissued to capitalize on the popularity of EL James's Fifty Shades Of Grey. This one isn't one of the 50,000 spades of copycats, though, as this one is billed as a "memoir" of the author - a 41-year old owner of a PR agency with a freshly slimmed down body and pendulous breasts (her words, not mine) - going through men like water in search of pleasure and more pleasure after her divorce.

Well, this one certainly feels like a memoir, as it has enough scenes of bad sex to represent reality with more accuracy than most of us would like to admit. The actual title of this book should be The Married Man, The Guy With A Tiny Willy, The Walking Halitosis, The Premature Take-Off Guy... I can go on, but let's just stop here as I'm sure you get the idea.

Unfortunately, the non-stop episodes of unfunny comedy of coital disasters are the plot of this story. For the first few episodes, I am amused. Then the novelty wears off and I start to feel bored. By the time this book reaches the midway point and Suzanne is still going through guys like nobody's business, I start to daydream about squeezing the throat of that person who thought it would be funny to release this story under the Black Lace imprint.

What's so erotic about sexy times with guys with bad breath, stamina issues, and weird personality quirks? It doesn't help that Suzanne has a monotonous first person narrative voice. She is so critical of everything - if the guy makes the cut, then it is his furniture that is the issue, or something else - that every sex scene feels like a chore to wade through. And she's so stupid. She keeps advertising on these newspapers for guys to have flings with. What kind of men does she expect to come calling?

Suzanne is a self-absorbed person with little concern beyond finding the next salami to stuff her larder. Not that this is the problem - the problem here is that the author lacks the wit to make this self-absorbed person interesting to read. There is nothing memorable about Suzanne, except that she may have the hoochie that is the biggest freak magnet in England, so the first person narrative fails to liven up a story that is already suffering from a lack of anything worth reading after the first 100 pages.

There is a quote on the front cover, in which a reviewer from Cosmopolitan says that the story made her want to stop reading and have sex. Well, that person is right - it's better to have sex than to read this lifeless bore of a story. Or, go read the telephone book. Just about anything, even staring at the photos of that walking doll Zac Efron vomiting into a ditch, would be a far more passionate experience than reading this thing.

Rating: 40

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