Foreword Reviews

Call Me Mary

And Do Call

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Call Me Mary is an eye-opening novel whose self-proclaimed sex addict lead is refreshingly candid.

In Evelyn Cole’s emotional and dramatic novel Call Me Mary, a woman looks for love in a world of lust.

Mary Lou is an independent and competent woman with a secret insecurity: she craves sex, sometimes feeling out of control. She sleeps with several men over the course of one week. Although Mary has a few committed romantic relationships, she’s seldom faithful, and she questions if she’s able to really love another person for more than their body. Fighting social expectations and her own guilt, Mary does everything in her power to gain control and find true love.

Mary is a relatable character. She struggles through a cold and confusing childhood, longing for sex during eras when women’s sexuality is stigmatized. She has a hard time relating to other people. Her internal monologue is shocking in its honesty and is emotionally authentic. Mary evolves throughout the story, coming to terms with her sex addiction and going from sullen and suicidal to finding her self-esteem. Her interactions with friends and family are realistic, except when it comes to her son, Billy. Mary frequently mentions that Billy “saved her life,” but interactions with Billy are rare and shallow.

The book’s supporting characters include several of the men whom Mary sleeps with, her siblings, and a couple of women whom she attempts to befriend. People are physically described, and their dialogue is natural, if their voices are not unique. Many conversations incorporate philosophical and psychological theories, tying in historic events and cultural concepts while highlighting Mary’s intelligence and outspokenness. Mary’s brother often questions her sex addict label; those challenges bring up the role of a religious upbringing in one’s personal sexual comfort.

The story spans several decades. Some references to events don’t adhere to the timeline, including a remark about Donald Trump “planning to save America” in a chapter that otherwise takes place in the 1960s or 1970s. Historic moments are incorporated and are seen to affect the moods and motivations of the characters. The book’s locations are rarely described.

Mary’s emotional turmoil and sexual encounters drive the story; there does not seem to be a central plot line beyond them. Aspects of romance come in, but the book’s sex scenes are neither fun nor appealing, particularly because Mary feels so badly about her actions. Mary ends up moving toward celibacy before attempting a serious relationship; her decision to rely on one man in order to feel complete is an uncomfortable development, and their relationship is problematic.

Call Me Mary is an eye-opening novel whose self-proclaimed sex addict lead is refreshingly candid.

Reviewed by Delia Stanley

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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