Sex Is Forbidden by Tim Parks

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Since the main characters in “Sex Is Forbidden” are forever interrogating the very point of their “sharing,” its author might forgive us for not always caring.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Sex is forbidden at the Dasgupta Institute, the Buddhist retreat where Beth Marriot has taken refuge, and that’s a big advantage. Beth has been working as a server, assisting in the kitchen and helping out—discreetly, so the meditators aren’t disturbed. The meditators are making big sacrifices to come here and change their lives. So the servers must observe the rules, and silence and separation of the sexes are chief among them.

But Beth is fighting demons. She came here at a crossroads in her life, caught between an older lover who wouldn’t choose her and a young one who wants to marry her, and she may have caused another man’s death when she risked her own life swimming out to sea in a gale. A singer in a band, vital and impulsive, fleshy and sexy, she has been a rebel and a provocateur. And now, conflicted and wandering, she stumbles on a diary in the men’s dorm and cannot keep away from it, or the man who wrote it. At the same time, desiring—all too hard—to achieve the inner peace that Buddhist practice promises, she yearns for the example set by the slim, silent, white-clad teacher Mi Nu, and maybe yearns for something more.

Comic and poignant at the same time, swiftly paced and completely engaging, Sex Is Forbidden is an entertaining novel about two profoundly different attitudes to life, and Beth—our narrator—is a character to be savored.
 

About Tim Parks

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TIM PARKS is the author of novels, nonfiction, and essays. He has won the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask, and Llewellyn Rhys awards and been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His works include Destiny, Europa, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, Italian Neighbors, An Italian Education, and A Season with Verona.
 
Published October 1, 2013 by Arcade Publishing. 290 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Sex Is Forbidden
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alexandra Jacobs on Oct 04 2013

Since the main characters in “Sex Is Forbidden” are forever interrogating the very point of their “sharing,” its author might forgive us for not always caring.

Read Full Review of Sex Is Forbidden | See more reviews from NY Times

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Michele Basilières on Dec 04 2013

Although Sex Is Forbidden follows the common story arc of the damaged character in search of redemption, it is just as much a coming-of-age novel at the same time.

Read Full Review of Sex Is Forbidden | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Sex Is Forbidden
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