The Mistress Contract
by She and He
Published by Unbridled Books, October 2011
The remarkable true document that is The Mistress Contract opens with a piece of paper that was signed in 1981 by a woman and her wealthy lover. The contract establishes an exchange that she thinks fair: If he will provide an adequate and separate home for her and cover her expenses, she will provide him with “mistress services”: “All sexual acts as requested, with suspension of historical, emotional, psychological disclaimers.”
For the duration of the agreement, she will become his sexual property.
Then — on a small recorder that fit in her purse — this extraordinary and unconventional couple began to tape their conversations about their relationship, conversations that took place while travelling, over dinner at home and in restaurants, on the phone, even in bed.
This book is based on those tapes. It is a candid record of what they had to say to each other privately about the arrangement and its power relations, their physical relationship and the sexual forces that shaped it. As private and intimate as it is, though, the book also turns an unblinking light on a period of intense upheaval between men and women.
Looking back now, thirty years later, this extraordinary couple are willing to reveal their most private moments to our scrutiny. What they capture in The Mistress Contract is an unapologetic revelation and a bold provocation.
This was an interesting book. It first caught my eye at BEA this year as I make a point to stop by Unbridled’s booth every year since I’ve been going. They have the most amazing books. This one however, really stood out as it was in a non-descript brown paper bag, almost as if what was within wasn’t for all eyes. This makes it intriguing already and once I’d read the blurb and talked to the publishers about it, I knew I had to read it.
And then I did…
To say I was disappointed is quite an understatement. When I finished it, I had the feeling that I’d just wasted a good part of my evening reading time for a lot of nothing. And so it was destined to become of my rare Friday Flops.
But then I sat on it a while, and it kept coming back at the oddest moments and I realized that what I thought made it a flop actually made it good. There is no sex in this book. You’d think with the title and the opening pages containing a contract between a man and woman for her to be his mistress, the book would be filled with sexually explicit encounters, but it’s not.
Instead, this book shares the intimate conversations these two people have over the course of their contract. You get to see the intimate side of their relationship and the questions that arise for discussion. It’s not about her being his mistress, but about the relationship they have with each other and the intimacy that developes that allows them to discuss these topics.
If you’re looking for a romance novel type read with lots of ripping bodices and muscular chests, this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for an intellectual discussion on a very intimate level between two people, then I suggest you pick this book up.