The Surrender

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Toni Bentley is a paradox, a militant feminist who found spiritual awakening through abject submission to a domineering male who sodomized her three hundred times over a period of several years.

The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir is divided into three sections. The first deals with the author’s more or less conventional sexual experiences before meeting her dream lover. Bentley’s photograph on the back of the dust jacket shows an exotic ballerina so attractive it is easy to understand why she had no trouble finding an endless succession of sexual partners, including mixed threesomes and foursomes. She was married for ten years but found--as have many others--that monogamous sex often becomes monotonous sex. She does not mince words in describing her bedroom adventures or relevant parts of the male and female anatomies. She has an engaging sense of humor which depends, as does most humor, on her ability to laugh at herself.

Her humor is most prominent in the second section, which begins with meeting “A-Man,” who introduces her to the pain and pleasure of anal sex, described in vivid detail. (Bentley, understandably, does not give any characters names.) After an affair lasting several years, she gives up her "demon lover" because he is cheating on her. In the final section she reflects ruefully on what she has learned. “A-Man was my God,” she concludes, “but he was my last God. I fear no man can be God again for me.”

Toni Bentley writes with ease and confidence, having previously published several other critically acclaimed books. The Surrender was recognized by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year.