Sophie Fontanel, a French novelist and editor for Elle France, documented her 12 years of celibacy that stretched from her late twenties and into her thirties in a candid memoir.

In the memoir, The Art of Sleeping Alone, Fontanel, now 50, opens up about her decision to abstain from sex with both earnest and amusing anecdotes. She admits that she came to the decision to be celibate after realizing that she wasn’t enjoying the sex she was having. "I spent the first 10 years of my adult life having, frankly, disappointing sex,” she told the Telegraph.

“People talked a lot about my physical imperfections," Fontanel continued. "They’d say things like, 'Maybe you’re not so young and beautiful, and that’s why nobody wanted to sleep with you. But I wasn’t saying that nobody wanted to sleep with me. I was saying that I didn’t want to sleep with anyone.”

Fontanel decided to put her story into a book because she’s sensed that many woman feel compelled to say they have a fulfilling sex life, even if they don’t. She acknowledges that there are those that aren’t bored and are having fun in the bedroom, but that she wanted to be a voice for those like her, specifically French women. “Perhaps it’s worse in France because we’re supposed to be so gifted in seduction,” she told Elle. “But I think that in general, it’s very rare to feel truly free when you’re a woman, even in free countries.”


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The Art of Sleeping Alone was first published in France under the title L’Envie. It became a best seller in just a week.

– Chelsea Regan

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