“Obsession” is written in stylized literary prose that owes something to Pauline Réage’s “Story of O,” and is set in a world that’s partly fantastical. It’s erotica, not porn. But it nevertheless uses vocabulary and describes activities of a sort that readers of The New York Times are usually shielded from. There are scenes involving dildos, whips, silken cords and golden nipple clamps, not to mention an ebony, smooth-backed Mason Pearson hairbrush purchased at Harrods. As the book explains, spanking with a Mason-Pearson is a “serious matter,” not the kind of thing that is rewarded with the “luscious afterglow of warm cocoa butter.” Mint, cayenne pepper and a fresh garden carrot are deployed in the book in ways never envisioned by “The Joy of Cooking.” And there is also a unicorn, though, blessedly, it remains a bystander.Mason-Pearson will be selling a few more of their hairbrushes this year, I think.
Ms. Vanderbilt’s son Anderson Cooper, the CNN newscaster, who read “Obsession” in manuscript, said: “The six most surprising words a mother can say to her son are: ‘Honey, I’m writing an erotic novel.’"