In 1973 Nancy Friday published a groundbreaking text, My Secret Garden, a collection of women’s sexual fantasies that revealed women could be as daring, surprising and explicit as men. Over the next two decades she followed this up with three more collections, two of women's fantasies and one of men's. In all four cases the fantasies were presented thematically, biographical data was provided (including age), there was often an attempt by the narrators to explain or analyse their fantasies, and sections were interspersed with Friday’s analysis of the fantasies and fantasists.
This noughties revisit to the ground explored by Nancy Friday’s groundbreaking books skips straight over the clinical, objective phsychological analysis and interpretation of the writing and goes straight to the good stuff. The women represented come from Canada, the US, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Germany and Puerto Rico, with no further biographical information given.
Rather than the somewhat brief and fragmented scenes narrated by Friday’s research participants, that sometimes included more than one scenario, or which described an outline of the fantasy rather than the scene itself, these women also seem less compelled to explain or justify their fantasies, and the scenarios are lovingly and completely described. In most cases each entry runs over eight pages, with one as few as six, and a few going for more than a dozen pages.
While themes including light sadomasochism, domination, lesbianism, power play, men with men, exhibitionism, and group sex are present, the more taboos elements present in Friday’s collections (including bestiality, rape, underage and incest fantasies) are absent from this more mainstream work. There is, however, likely to be something for most people, and I certainly found a few of the works particularly well written, well imagined and effective. – Alex