Sex and the sea have always had a strong association with each other, and not just because of the fishy smell.
I went on a cruise recently and I have to admit there was something inherently arousing about the whole experience. I’d watched "Titanic" before embarking on the journey. Watching apposite disaster movies before travelling is a superstitious ritual that I perform before trying any new form of transportation. I’ll sit through "Final Destination Two" before I go on a long car journey. I have to watch "Cast Away" (for the aeroplane scene) before I take a flight. And I needed to watch "Titanic" before I set foot onboard our holiday cruise liner.
And the movie turned out to be an informative experience. I learnt that the correct term for my accommodation was “steerage.” I played that game Kate Winslett taught to Leonardo DiCaprio (where you spit on the heads of people walking on lower decks) and thought it was a little like “Pooh Sticks” but with phlegm and irate sailors.
And I discovered that the reality of the sea is just as sexy as its Hollywood and fictional counterparts. Obviously "Titanic" was a sexy movie (Kate Winslett spits, Leonardo DiCaprio goes down, etc) all of which is only mentioned for cheap gags and to confirm my original assertion that the sea and ocean travel are incredibly sexy.
Which is probably why R.V. Raiment starts Aphrodite Overboard on a boat. There are few things more sexually exciting than the anticipation of travel, the thrill of exploring new shores, and the old world charm that comes from using such an anachronistic mode of transportation.
Technically, Aphrodite Overboard doesn’t actually start onboard a boat. The framed narrative presents the manuscript as having been found in the bottom of a sea chest, the personal memoirs of Susanna, Lady F, offered to the reader by one of the protagonist’s forebears. But the story proper begins in Chapter the First, when Susanna encounters “an ugly little man and an ugly little ship.” And, as this beginning sets the stylish tone for the remainder of the narrative, it seems appropriate to mention the nautical theme.
Not that Aphrodite Overboard is all about sailors and seamen. The first chapter includes a ship going down, Susanna getting rescued, Susanna going down, and then Susanna finding refuge on an idyllic tropical island. Which is where her adventures really start.
And I really have to ask at this point: what’s not to love about this book?
There is something innately endearing about the style of a Victorian novel. Usually, the inherent charm comes from learning to hear the distinctive timbre of the narrator’s voice and that’s an absolute delight with this story. The pleasure of that artifice is invariably compounded in erotic novels of that period as the reader is politely introduced to the very unvictorian concept of the characters possessing genitalia and daring to break societal protocols by doing things with them. And, R.V. Raiment has kept true to the period language in this story by chatting freely about bubbies, cunnies and manhoods.
That last sentence is probably a little misleading. R.V. Raiment doesn’t “chat freely” about those various parts of the anatomy. Each time Susanna refers to a cunny or a manhood, R.V Raiment has written the prose so eloquently you can almost hear those forbidden words being whispered naughtily from behind a discreet hand covering the lips of his narrator. It is probably this secretly prurient voice that lends the story its authentic feel and inescapable charm.
Now, call me old fashioned and remind me I need to get a life but, if I was ever sad enough to compile a list of my favourite words, “cunnie” would be somewhere near the top. Compared to its contemporarily more popular etymological cousin, “cunnie” lacks the harsh and vulgar sound of “cunt.” Cunnie is almost sufficiently twee and inoffensive to be the name a small child would give to a pet hamster.
“I had two hamsters as a child: Bubbies and Cunnie.” (Actually, this isn’t true. My pet hamsters were called Funbags and Minge, but I’m sure I would have been a happier pet owner if they had been called Bubbies and Cunnie.)
None of which has much to do with Aphrodite Overboard but I mention it because the language in this book is so thoroughly entertaining.
As I said before, R V Raiment has cleverly packaged this epistolary tale as the fresh found memoirs of a long lost grandparent. Susanna’s manuscript is filled with the typical twists and turns of the Victorian novel. But the work is written by a contemporary author with more than enough wit and style to keep the narrative interesting and compelling for a modern day reader. The sex scenes are arousing and extremely well written. Even as the story progresses toward its denouement, and the bump-and-grind should have become dull or commonplace, Susanna’s distinctive voice maintains the shocked innocence and wonder that seems quite proper for the tone of this time period.
The story opens with Susanna’s own introduction to her memoirs:
“I begin, knowing that what I write may never be read…”
I only repeat this line because I think it would be a terrible shame for any aficionado of the eloquence and artistry of Victorian erotica to not read Aphrodite Overboard.