The Education of Simone

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Published in two volumes in condensed into one text divided into two "books" in English , this work immediately found both an eager audience and harsh critics. The Second Sex was so controversial that the Vatican put it along with her novel, The Mandarins on the Index of prohibited books. At the time The Second Sex was written, very little serious philosophy on women from a feminist perspective had been done.

With the exception of a handful of books, systematic treatments of the oppression of women both historically and in the modern age were almost unheard of. Striking for the breadth of research and the profundity of its central insights, The Second Sex remains to this day one of the foundational texts in philosophy, feminism, and women's studies.

The main thesis of The Second Sex revolves around the idea that woman has been held in a relationship of long-standing oppression to man through her relegation to being man's "Other. However, the movement of self-understanding through alterity is supposed to be reciprocal in that the self is often just as much objectified by its other as the self objectifies it.

What Beauvoir discovers in her multifaceted investigation into woman's situation, is that woman is consistently defined as the Other by man who takes on the role of the Self. As Beauvoir explains in her Introduction, woman "is the incidental, the inessential, as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute-she is the Other. Beauvoir thus proposes to investigate how this radically unequal relationship emerged as well as what structures, attitudes and presuppositions continue to maintain its social power.

The work is divided into two major themes. The first book investigates the "Facts and Myths" about women from multiple perspectives including the biological-scientific, psychoanalytic, materialistic, historical, literary and anthropological. In each of these treatments, Beauvoir is careful to claim that none of them is sufficient to explain woman's definition as man's Other or her consequent oppression. However, each of them contributes to woman's overall situation as the Other sex. For example, in her discussion of biology and history, she notes the women experience certain phenomena such as pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation that are foreign to men's experience and thus contribute to a marked difference in women's situation.

However, these physiological occurrences in no way directly cause woman to be man's subordinate because biology and history are not mere "facts" of an unbiased observer, but are always incorporated into and interpreted from a situation. In addition, she acknowledges that psychoanalysis and historical materialism contribute tremendous insights into the sexual, familial and material life of woman, but fail to account for the whole picture.


In the case of psychoanalysis, it denies the reality of choice and in the case of historical materialism, it neglects to take into account the existential importance of the phenomena it reduces to material conditions. The most philosophically rich discussion of Book I comes in Beauvoir's analysis of myths. There she tackles the way in which the preceding analyses biological, historical, psychoanalytic, etc. In fact, the ideal set by the Eternal Feminine sets up an impossible expectation because the various manifestations of the myth of femininity appear as contradictory and doubled.

For example, history shows us that for as many representations of the mother as the respected guardian of life, there are as many depictions of her as the hated harbinger of death. The contradiction that man feels at having been born and having to die gets projected onto the mother who takes the blame for both. Thus woman as mother is both hated and loved and individual mothers are hopelessly caught in the contradiction. This doubled and contradictory operation appears in all feminine myths, thus forcing women to unfairly take the burden and blame for existence.

Book II begins with Beauvoir's most famous assertion, "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. Using a wide array of accounts and observations, the first section of Book II traces the education of woman from her childhood, through her adolescence and finally to her experiences of lesbianism and sexual initiation if she has any. At each stage, Beauvoir illustrates how women are forced to relinquish their claims to transcendence and authentic subjectivity by a progressively more stringent acceptance of the "passive" and "alienated" role to man's "active" and "subjective" demands.

Woman's passivity and alienation are then explored in what Beauvoir entitles her "Situation" and her "Justifications. Because she maintains the existentialist belief in the absolute ontological freedom of each existent regardless of sex, Beauvoir never claims that man has succeeded in destroying woman's freedom or in actually turning her into an "object" in relation to his subjectivity. She remains a transcendent freedom despite her objectification, alienation and oppression. Although we certainly can not claim that woman's role as the Other is her fault, we also cannot say that she is always entirely innocent in her subjection.

As taken up in the discussion of The Ethics of Ambiguity , Beauvoir believes that there are many possible attitudes of bad faith where the existent flees his or her responsibility into prefabricated values and beliefs. Many women living in a patriarchal culture are guilty of the same action and thus are in some ways complicitous in their own subjugation because of the seeming benefits it can bring as well as the respite from responsibility it promises.

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Beauvoir discusses three particular inauthentic attitudes in which women hide their freedom in: Beauvoir concludes her work by asserting various concrete demands necessary for woman's emancipation and the reclamation of her selfhood. First and foremost, she demands that woman be allowed to transcend through her own free projects with all the danger, risk, and uncertainty that entails. As such, modern woman "prides herself on thinking, taking action, working, creating, on the same terms as men; instead of seeking to disparage them, she declares herself their equal.

In order to achieve this kind of independence, Beauvoir believes that women will benefit from non-alienating, non-exploitative productive labor to some degree. In other words, Beauvoir believes that women will benefit tremendously from work. As far as marriage is concerned, the nuclear family is damaging to both partners, especially the woman.

Marriage, like any other authentic choice, must be chosen actively and at all times or else it is a flight from freedom into a static institution. Beauvoir's emphasis on the fact that women need access to the same kinds of activities and projects as men places her to some extent in the tradition of liberal, or second-wave feminism. She demands that women be treated as equal to men and laws, customs and education must be altered to encourage this.

However, The Second Sex always maintains its fundamental existentialist belief that each individual, regardless of sex, class or age, should be encouraged to define him or herself and to take on the individual responsibility that comes with freedom. This requires not just focusing on universal institutions, but on the situated individual existent struggling within the ambiguity of existence. In her autobiographies, Beauvoir often makes the claim that although her passion for philosophy was lifelong, her heart was always set on becoming an author of great literature.

What she succeeded in doing was writing some of the best existentialist literature of the 20th century. Much as Camus and Sartre discovered, existentialism's concern for the individual thrown into an absurd world and forced to act, lends itself well to the artistic medium of fiction. All of Beauvoir's novels incorporate existential themes, problems, and questions in her attempt to describe the human situation in times of personal turmoil, political upheaval, and social unrest. Opening with a quote from Hegel about the desire of self-consciousness to seek the death of the other, the book is a complex psychological study of the battles waged for selfhood.

Set during the buildup to World War II, it charts the complexity of war in individual relationships. This work brought her recognition and lead to the writing of one of her most critically acclaimed novels, Le Sang des Autres The Blood of Others in This work begins to take into account the social responsibility that one's times demand. Set during the German Occupation of France, it follows the lives of the Patriot leader, Jean Blomart and his agony over sending his lover to her death.

This work was heralded as one of the leading existential novels of the Resistance and stands as a testimony to the often tragic contradiction between the responsibility we have to ourselves, to those we love, and to our people and humanity as a whole. In , Beauvoir published Tous les Hommes sont Mortels All Men are Mortal which revolves around the question of mortality and immortality. When an aspiring actress discovers that a mysterious and morose man is immortal, she becomes obsessed with her own immortality which she believes will be carried forth by him into eternity after her death.

Although this work was not as well-received by critics and the public, it is especially provocative with the phenomena of time and mortality and the desire all human beings share to achieve immortality in any form we can, and how this leads to a denial of lived experience in the here and now. Les Mandarins The Mandarins , Beauvoir's most famous and critically acclaimed novel was published in and soon thereafter won the prestigious French award for literature, the Prix Goncourt.

This work is a profound study of the responsibilities that the intellectual has to his or her society. It explores the virtues and pitfalls of philosophy, journalism, theater, and literature as these media try to speak to their age and to implement social change. The Mandarins brings in a number of Beauvoir's own personal concerns as it tarries with the issues of Communism and Socialism, the fears of American imperialism and the nuclear bomb, and the relationship of the individual intellectual to other individuals and to society.

It also raises the questions of personal and political allegiance and how the two often conflict with tragic results. Finally, Beauvoir's novel, Les Belles Images , explores the constellation of relationships, hypocrisy and social mores in Parisian society. Beauvoir wrote two collections of short stories. The first, Quand Prime le Spirituel When Things of the Spirit Come First wasn't published until even though it was her first work of fiction submitted and rejected for publication in As the 's were less amenable to both women writers and stories on women, it is not so peculiar that this collection was rejected only to be rediscovered and esteemed over forty years later.

This work offers fascinating insight into Beauvoir's concerns with women and their unique attitudes and situations long before the writing of The Second Sex. Divided into five chapters, each titled by the name of the main female character, it exposes the hypocrisy of the French upper classes who hide their self-interests behind a veil of intellectual or religious absolutes.

The stories take up the issues of the crushing demands of religious piety and individual renunciation, the tendency to aggrandize our lives to others and the crisis of identity when we are forced to confront our deceptions, and the difficulty of being a woman submitted to bourgeois and religious education and expectations. Beauvoir's second collection of short stories, La Femme Rompue The Woman Destroyed , was published in and was considerably well-received.

This too offers separate studies of three women, each of whom is living in bad faith in one form or another. As each encounters a crisis in her familial relationships, she engages in a flight from her responsibility and freedom. This collection expands upon themes found in her ethics and feminism of the often denied complicity in one's own undoing. Clearly enmeshed in the issues of World War II Europe, the dilemma of this play focuses on who is worth sacrificing for the benefit of the collective.

This piece was influenced by the history of 14th century Italian towns that, when under siege and facing mass starvation, threw out the old, sick, weak, women and children to fend for themselves so that there might be enough for the strong men to hold out a little longer. The play is set in just such circumstances which were hauntingly resonant to Nazi occupied France.

True to Beauvoir's ethical commitments which assert the freedom and sanctity of the individual only within the freedom and respect of his or her community, the town decides to rise up together and either defeat the enemy or to die together. Although the play contains a number of important and well-developed existential, ethical and feminist themes, it was not as successful as her other literary expressions.

Although she never again wrote for the theater, many of the characters of her novels for example in She Came to Stay , All Men are Mortal , and The Mandarins are playwrights and actors, showing her confidence in the theatrical arts to convey crucial existential and socio-political dilemmas. Beauvoir was always passionate about traveling and embarked upon many adventures both alone and with Sartre and others. Two trips had a tremendous impact upon her and were the impetus for two major books. During her stay, she was commissioned by the New York Times to write an article entitled, "An Existentialist Looks at Americans," appearing on May 25, It offers a penetrating critique of the United States as a country so full of promise but also one that is a slave to novelty, material culture, and a pathological fixation on the present at the expense of the past.

Such themes are repeated in greater detail in America Day by Day , which also tackles the issue of America's strained race relations, imperialism, anti-intellectualism, and class tensions. The second major work to come out of Beauvoir's travels resulted from her two-month trip to China with Sartre in Although disturbed by the censorship and careful choreographing of their visit by the Communists, she found China to be working towards a betterment in the life of its people.

The themes of labor and the plight of the worker are common throughout this work, as is the situation of women and the family. Despite the breadth of its investigation and the desire on Beauvoir's behalf to study a completely foreign culture, it was both a critical and a personal embarrassment.

She later admitted that it was done more to make money than to offer a serious cultural analysis of China and its people. Regardless of these somewhat justified criticisms, it stands as interesting exploration of the tension between capitalism and Communism, the self and its other, and what it means to be free in different cultural contexts.

In , Beauvoir began a monumental study of the same genre and caliber as The Second Sex. La Vieillesse The Coming of Age , met with instant critical success. The Second Sex had been received with considerable hostility from many groups who did not want to be confronted with an unpleasant critique of their sexist and oppressive attitudes towards women; The Coming of Age however, was generally welcomed although it too critiques society's prejudices towards another oppressed group: This masterful work takes the fear of age as a cultural phenomenon and seeks to give voice to a silenced and detested class of human beings.

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Lashing out against the injustices suffered by the old, Beauvoir successfully complicates a problem all too oversimplified. For example, she notes that, depending on one's work or class, old age can come earlier or later. Those who are materially more advantaged can afford good medicine, food and exercise, and thus live much longer and age less quickly, than a miner who is old at In addition, she notices the philosophically complex connection between age and poverty and age and dehumanization.

As she had done in with The Second Sex , Beauvoir approaches the subject matter of The Coming of Age from a variety of perspectives including the biological, anthropological, historical, and sociological. In addition, she explores the question of age from the perspective of the living, elderly human being in relation to his or her body, time and the external world. Just as with The Second Sex , this later work is divided into two books, the first which deals with "Old Age as Seen from Without" and the second with, "Being-in-the-World. What she concludes from her investigation into the experience, fear and stigma of old age is that even though the process of aging and the decline into death is an inescapable, existential phenomenon for those human beings who live long enough to experience it, there is no necessity to our loathing the aged members of society.

There is a certain acceptance of the fear of age felt by most people because it ironically stands as more of the opposite to life than does death. However, this does not demand that the aged merely resign themselves to waiting for death or for younger members of society to treat them as the invisible class. Rather, Beauvoir argues in true existentialist fashion that old age must still be a time of creative and meaningful projects and relationships with others.

This means that above all else, old age must not be a time of boredom, but a time of continuous political and social action. This requires a change of orientation among the aged themselves and within society as a whole which must transform its idea that a person is only valuable insofar as they are profitable. Instead, both individuals and society must recognize that a person's value lies in his or her humanity which is unaffected by age.

In her autobiography, Beauvoir tells us that in wanting to write about herself she had to first explain what it meant to be a woman and that this realization was the genesis of The Second Sex. However, Beauvoir also successfully embarked upon the recounting of her life in four volumes of detailed and philosophically rich autobiography. In addition to painting a vibrant picture of her own life, Beauvoir also gives us access into other influential figures of the 20th century ranging from Camus, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, to Richard Wright, Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Antonin Artaud and Fidel Castro among many others.

Even though her autobiography covers both non-philosophical and philosophical ground, it is important not to downplay the role that autobiography has in Beauvoir's theoretical development. Indeed, many other existentialists, such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Kierkegaard, embrace the autobiographical as a key component to the philosophical. Beauvoir always maintained the importance of the individual's situation and experience in the face of contingency and the ambiguity of existence.

Through the recounting of her life, we are given a unique and personal picture of Beauvoir's struggles as a philosopher, social reformer, writer and woman during a time of great cultural and artistic achievement and political upheaval. In this volume, Beauvoir shows the development of her intellectual and independent personality and the influences which lead to her decisions to become a philosopher and a writer. It also presents a picture of a woman who was critical of her class and its expectations of women from an early age.

Like Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter , it was commercially and critically well received. Taking up the years from , Beauvoir portrays her transition from student to adult and the discovery of personal responsibility in war and peace. In many points, she explores the motivations for many of her works, such as The Second Sex and The Mandarins. The third installment of her autobiography, La Force des Choses The Force of Circumstance , ; published in two separate volumes takes up the time frame following the conclusion of World War II in to the year In these volumes, Beauvoir becomes increasingly more aware of the political responsibility of the intellectual to his or her country and times.

In the volume between After the War Beauvoir describes the intellectual blossoming of post-war Paris, rich with anecdotes on writers, filmmakers and artists. Because of its brutal honesty on the themes of aging, death and war, this volume of her autobiography was less well-received than the previous two. The final installment in the chronicling of her life charts the years from Tout Compte Fait , All Said and Done , shows an older and wiser philosopher and feminist who looks back over her life, her relationships, and her accomplishments and recognizes that it was all for the best.

Here Beauvoir shows her commitments to feminism and social change in a clarity only hinted at in earlier volumes and she continues to struggle with the virtues and pitfalls of capitalism and Communism. Additionally, she returns to past works such as The Second Sex , to reevaluate her motivations and her conclusions about literature, philosophy, and the act of remembering. She again returns to the themes of death and dying and their existential significance as she begins to experience the passing of those she loves.

Although not exactly considered to be "autobiography," it is worth mentioning two more facets of Beauvoir's self-revelatory literature. The first consists of her works on the lives and deaths of loved ones. This book is often considered to be one of Beauvoir's best in its day-by-day portrayal of the ambiguity of love and the experience of loss.

A Farewell to Sartre which recounts the progression of an aged and infirm Sartre to his death. Each of these works provides us with another perspective into the life of one of the most powerful philosophers of the 20th century and one of the most influential female intellectuals on the history of Western thinking. Pyrrhus et Cineas For most of her life, Beauvoir was concerned with the ethical responsibility that the individual has to him or herself, other individuals and to oppressed groups. The Second Sex Most philosophers agree that Beauvoir's greatest contribution to philosophy is her revolutionary magnum opus, The Second Sex.

Novels In her autobiographies, Beauvoir often makes the claim that although her passion for philosophy was lifelong, her heart was always set on becoming an author of great literature. Short Stories Beauvoir wrote two collections of short stories. Travel Observations Beauvoir was always passionate about traveling and embarked upon many adventures both alone and with Sartre and others. Autobiographical Works In her autobiography, Beauvoir tells us that in wanting to write about herself she had to first explain what it meant to be a woman and that this realization was the genesis of The Second Sex.

References and Further Reading a. Translated by Patrick O'Brian. All Men are Mortal. Translated by Leonard M. English translation of Tous les Hommes sont Mortels Paris: All Said and Done. English translation of Tout compte fait Paris: America Day by Day. Translated by Carol Cosman.

University of California Press, English translation of Les belles images Paris: The Blood of Others. Translated by Roger Senhouse and Yvonne Moyse. English translation of Le sang des autres Paris: The Coming of Age. English translation of La vieillesse Paris: Appendix B in Djamila Boupacha: Translated by Peter Green.

The Macmillan Company, English translations of Djamila Boupacha Paris: The Ethics of Ambiguity. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Beauvoir, Simone de Beauvoir, Simone de. Force of Circumstance , Vol. After the War, ; Vol. Translated by Richard Howard. English translation of La force des choses Paris: Translated and Edited by Quintin Hoare. Translated by Austryn Wainhouse. The World Publishing, English translation of La longue marche Paris: English translation of Les mandarins Paris: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

Translated by James Kirkup. The Prime of Life. Must We Burn Sade? She Came to Stay. A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren. Compiled and annotated by Sylvie le Bon de Beauvoir.

The New Press, A Very Easy Death. When Things of the Spirit Come First. English translation of Quand prime le spirituel Paris: Translated by Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier. English translation of Les bouches inutiles Paris: English translation of La femme rompue Paris: The Bonds of Freedom.

Open Court Publishing, Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy and Feminism. Columbia University Press, The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered Phenomenologies, Erotic Generosities. The Novels of Simone de Beauvoir. I Enjoyed This Read! Feb 22, Kathryn rated it it was amazing. I loved this book. I bought Pleasure back in and have yet to finish it because I really couldn't connect with Nia Simone Bijou This makes me wanna give Pleasure a second well Feb 02, Danelle rated it it was amazing Shelves: I thought I should write a better review.

So this was a short read from Eric Jerome Dickey, I think it can fall under the category of novella.

It tells a tale of a character I hoped he hadn't laid to rest Nia Simone Bijou if you haven't read Pleasure i suggest you do. It begins when she finds a box from college with old pictures. Instead of memories that you would think she might cherish, she stares at them in anger and resentment, and the rest of the tale is a flash back at her first love, and I thought I should write a better review. Instead of memories that you would think she might cherish, she stares at them in anger and resentment, and the rest of the tale is a flash back at her first love, and her first heartbreak.

Eric Jerome Dickey is one of my favorite writers because someone he can write from a female perspective and it's so believable. His words are raw and poetic at the same time. This didn't fall short to me in anyway.


Even though he fed you bits and pieces of the end, and even though I could see how it was going to end, I still couldn't put the book down. Especially because in a way I can relate to it. Seeing that this is release a month before Decadence, another novel featuring Nia Simone, I can only wonder if this novella is going to have some relevance to Decadence.

One can only wait and see. Feb 26, M.

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Walker rated it it was amazing. I fell in love with Nia Simone in with Pleasure and I've fallen in love all over again. This book is sharp and seductively sexy in every aspect of the word. The passion and fire between Chris and Nia is sexually erotic, heavenly in intense, and sophiscated enough to warn your heart of the trials and troubles of being in love.

Nia Simone is a beautiful woman on a whirlwind journey of discovering life and love in a chaotic world. I am Nia and so are my sisters. I loved this short presquel to I fell in love with Nia Simone in with Pleasure and I've fallen in love all over again. I loved this short presquel to Pleasure and now I'm ready for dessert in Decadence. EJD never fails, never gets old, keep mind sexing me, and making you fall in love with such authentic humane characters in every novel!! Feb 07, Bobbie Wines added it. It was a great intro to the next book. Jan 22, Rebekkah rated it it was amazing.

Ready to get into Decadence. Mar 02, Melissa rated it did not like it. This book is littered with mistakes. Beyond that there is very little story to read here. There is also a lot of repetition in regards to the character's descriptions. This is a pretty forgettable book. Feb 07, Janell rated it it was amazing. A good short read. Apr 04, Shae rated it it was amazing. Feb 17, S C Angel rated it did not like it. Waiting I was waiting for something to happen and it never did in my opinion. It was like reading a teen diary.

Apr 21, Angie Cory rated it liked it. Recommended by a Friend Trinidad, Jamaica, calypso, seco. Culture, intelligence, Mensa, discussions. Too much bedroom for me but appreciated the culture, from tradition and legend to food and music. Mar 24, Paige Smith rated it liked it Shelves: This book was just okay to me. I have read a couple books from Eric Jerome Dickey and wanted to give this book a try.

I didn't care for the sex being the main focus, but when it was talking about the characters' life I enjoyed it. Jun 03, Latasha rated it it was amazing. Definitely not a happily ever after. More like pain and pleasure. May 23, Rose rated it it was ok. Wasn't the best book by Eric Jerome. It repeated too much of the same thing over and over. It was quite an annoying read.

Had high hopes for it, but it really let me down. Eric Jerome Dickey enlightens us on the college years of Nia from his book, Pleasure. This novella is one that will not disappoint and is a great filler to get us ready for Decadence that will be released in April. I was a slave to my heart, to romance.

I was beautifully imperfect, but incapable of seeing my own flaws. That was the arrogance of youth, when you believed that you owned time and gravity, those things that betrayed and aged us in the end, when you believed that universes rotated around your existence. The Education of Nia Simone Bijou is a quick afternoon read and will make you want to go back and read Pleasure all over again and it will definitely get you excited to purchase Decadence which will be released on April 23rd!!

Feb 15, Kim rated it really liked it. All I can say is wow! Dickey always writes a thought provoking read, and this one is no different. Its not your usual fluff, but actually makes you think and re-read sentences two and three times. At first I really couldn't figure out where this story was going, but about half way through it all makes sense. It is literally the Education of Nia Simone Bijou because we really get to read about her grow in such a short period of time. The dynamic between her and Chris was heavenly erotic, but All I can say is wow!

Simone de Beauvoir (1908—1986)

The dynamic between her and Chris was heavenly erotic, but they connected on a intellectual and spiritual level as well. I cannot wait until April to see where Nia's story goes in Decadence , I suspect it will be epic. Jan 22, LiteraryMarie rated it really liked it. One of Eric Jerome Dickey's heroines is back: In this special eBook release, Nia's memories are triggered while going through an old box. It is filled with old Kodak photos, letters, newspaper clippings and a journal of Love Is sayings. Everything was new and exciting during this part of Nia's life.

She was an impressionable student at Hampton University that fell in love with athlete Chris Eidos Alleyne. This best describes Nia's college days. I enjoyed reading her memories written in that descriptive, sensual way that EJD is known for. Literary Marie of Precision Reviews Feb 18, Aisha rated it it was ok.

This book was a quick read that provided insight into how Nia started down the road that led her to being who she is in Pleasure. Although this was a good read, the storyline was predictable. I was eager to read the books chronicalling the life of Nia Simone Bijou because a lot of my friends spoke so highly of these books, however after the disappointment of Pleasure and predictable plot in The Education of Nia Simone Bijou, I may or may not read Decadence. In fact, books like these are the reas This book was a quick read that provided insight into how Nia started down the road that led her to being who she is in Pleasure.

In fact, books like these are the reason why I started reading science-fiction, those storylines are more outside of the box and don't center around the same tired storylines and plot twists. Jul 29, Chanell Wilson rated it it was amazing. I listened to Pleasure the Audio Book during a leave of absence and was floored by the story. I found out that Dickey was preparing to release a sequel and had this as a prequel or set up story to the sequel. I bought the kindle version immediately and read it in one evening.