Bought by Anna David
Emma is in a bind. She is the daughter of upper middle class parents who think she’s wasting her talents trying to be a writer. Case in point – her job is grabbing quick interviews with celebrities on the red carpet for Substance magazine. Her sister, however, is golden. She went to the right school and is dating a man whose ancestry is intermixed with European royalty. Emma can’t seem to a keep a relationship going any longer than it takes her to decide to sleep with him. She is desperate to make her own way and prove to her parents that there is nothing wrong with following your bliss. As each day goes on, she becomes more desperate for a big break as a features writer. When her big chance arrives, and she lands a story about L.A.’s not-so-typical prostitutes, she learns just how much doing whatever it takes for a story can cost her so much more than she is willing to give.
What I found the most interesting thing about this novel was what it brought up about feminity and where to draw the line between simply being and acting like a woman and being a prostitute of one type or the other. When the line is crisp and clear – exchanging sex for money, this isn’t something I think that much about. Thankfully I’ve never once had a consider doing such a thing. The women that Emma interviews and meets for her story about the new wave of kept women who exchange the pleasures of their company for beautiful things muddy the water a little bit. How much different is a woman who bats her eyelashes at the bar to get a free drink from someone like Jessica, the character who shows Emma the ropes? Even if there is quite a difference, how far from prostitution is anyone who uses their femine qualities to get what she wants? Are these unfair questions?
Perhaps the difference isn’t in the tools used but in the motivation. I remember overhearing an adolescent male say that “all women are whores” because they either “give it up for money or a roof over their heads” when I was a teenager and it disgusted me. It’s instinctual for a woman to want a secure place in which to raise children. It is equally instinctual for a man to want to provide that for his family. Sex is simply the glue that binds the two together. It not simply the price that a woman resigns herself to in order to meet those needs. It is desperation fuel by a lack of self esteem that drives women and men to sell their bodies in exchange for (fill in the blank).
I zoomed through Bought and it felt good. Much of what I’ve been reading recently has taken me nearly a week to complete. David’s writing was smooth and her characters were interesting. I liked Emma and cringed as I saw her fall deeper and deeper into the trap she set for herself when she became personally involved with the women she was interviewing. Near the end I did get somewhat frustrated with her when, despite clearly seeing piece after piece of the puzzle line up, she fails to see the complete picture until that she has no other choice. This may have been to proove a point, but I think that point had been made many times over at that point. I hope that as she learns from the experiences she had in the process of writing her article about Hollywood’s kept women. They sure made for some interesting internal conversations for this reader.
This would make an excellent choice for a book club, so long as the members aren’t offended by some occasional graphic discussions of sex. Given the subject matter, there wasn’t as much as could be expected. Still, Jessica wouldn’t have been Jessica without her ability to be frank about the tricks she has up her sleeves.
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