A charming little book my husband picked up in an op shop, Love Me Little was a nice little find. I’d never heard of Amanda Vail before – and why would I have, when it is a pseudonym for Warren Miller, a little known author who wrote in the 50s and 60s predominantly.
What charmed me about this book was the voice of the protagonist: a 15 year old girl named Emily. She is wise, witty and sophisticated. She’s how I would have liked to be at 15 – wise well beyond my years. Of course it all makes sense when you realise that the author is in fact a 39 year old man.
The deceit is evident in the short bio at on the back cover of the book, about a young girl who lives in New York and started writing very young. Miller went to some lengths to get into his character – going so far as to author the book as the character.
While Husband found this creepy, I actually really appreciate Warren Miller’s little story. As I said, I enjoyed the character. And, while perhaps I have misunderstood the point of the story, I liked the end message.
In a nutshell:
Emily and her friend Amy become obsessed with sex after a schoolmate returns to boarding school with a new “experience”. Just like what really happens with young girl, this new thing (sex) becomes a fad, and everyone is determined to return after the Summer having done it.
So we follow Emily in her attempts to woo several young gentlemen, and essentially get them into bed. Her attitude towards boys is hilariously what I imagine men are like. She has no interest in a relationship, or feeling any sort of ‘love’ – just wanting to get the deed done and see what all the fuss is about.
All of this takes place in the midst of Emily parents’ own relationship problems. Her father, from what I could gather, is a semi-well known author who writes books that aren’t appropriate for Emily to read until she is over 16. His latest is to be about adultery. Ironic, as he is also committing adultery on the summer trip, sleeping with another woman in their special spot in the bamboo forest.
Emily’s father is heavily sarcastic, unsatisfied and cocky, while her mother is nonchalant, wealthy and outspoken. I love the clever dialogue that goes around this relationship. Both parents are unhappy, criticise each other and are sarcastic. Emily knows all this, and is ever more mature by contrast.
In the end, Emily abandons her quest for sex after reading an old letter that she finds, in which the woman expresses her love. However, she doesn’t write the word ‘love’, but ‘l-‘. Love is apparently too special even to write down. I think it is nice that our protagonist, after reading this, comes to see the folly in her own mission for sex. What is the point of it, without love as an end goal?