Top 10: Stephen King Books

Underground Reading: The Daffodil Girls by Peter Hawkins

Daffodil GirlsThe Daffodil Girls (1969) are a troupe of foxy blonde dancers. Recruited from small English towns, they're sent overseas en masse to kick, leap, wiggle and writhe in dance halls and clubs all over the world. 

The story follows Samantha, the latest recruit. 

At the tender of age of 16, she has to do some fast talking to let her conservative mother allow her to travel with the Daffodils. The story is almost over before it begins, but Jimmy (the London recruiter) manages to convince all the concerned parties of the troupe's respectability (page 12). 

They're shagging by page 15.

Pages 16 through 255 are equally lusty. Sam is first sent to Rome for training, where she discovers that the troupe's founder maintains discipline with spanking and shagging. The many young ladies of the troupe put up with this, as it seems a "small price to pay" for their lifestyle of drinking and hob-nobbing with Italy's finest expats. Sam's small circle grows to include a journalist (a blatant Mary Sue for the author, a journalist himself) and an elderly, famous actor. Both of these men serve as guardian angels - protecting Sam from the worst dangers (not counting themselves, both of whom enjoy Sam's favors).

Although some conventional and inhibited readers may see this as a chronicle of sex slavery, well... they'd be right. But hey, hilarious hijinks ensue, generally involving spanking, shagging, oral sex and drinking until comatose. In France, Sam hooks up with a dodgy boat captain who mistakes her for an heiress and gets her heart broken (also, more shagging). This is a prolonged escapade (she's saved by the journalist) and the last remotely realistic thing that happens in the course of the book.

Her penultimate adventure takes Sam back to London, where she's absorbed into a blackmail cult, run by one of Aleister Crowley's disciples (more shagging, orgies, a bit of lesbian sex). With the help of her journalist friend, etc. etc. etc. At this point, any pretense at being grounded goes out the window, and the bouyant Samantha is essentially Debbie Does the Devil.

Finally, Sam winds up (somehow) as a harem girl in some sort of randomly barbaric Middle Eastern country. The Sheikh takes a shine to his special blonde (now ex-)dancer, and after a token amount of S&M, lets her have her way. Sam brings liberal English reform to the Middle East, solves all of her friends' problems, and generally makes the world a better place. (More shagging, more S&M, and just generally ridiculous behaviour). Even if one forgives the over-the-top racism of this entire chapter, it is still just plain awful.

Although the overall message of how sex slavery can bring about world peace is quite touching, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to recommend The Daffodil Girls as school reading just yet. This is the story of an underage girl who is abused in at least six different countries. The author occasionally gives her an ostensible bit of agency over her own life, mostly so she can choose to shag someone different. This allows everyone (author, reader, etc) to feel a tiny bit better about themselves, and, conscience assuaged, skim to the next spanking.