Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” —Groucho Marx

Monday, March 23, 2015

31 Days: A Memoir of Seduction by Marcia Gloster--A Review

Thirty-one days of my life would never be interesting for someone to read about, although I have never felt life was dull.   It's just once I live through a day, I am often disappointed with my reaction and responses to that day.

Well, this book, 31 Days A Memoir of Seduction was anything but boring.


Marcia Gloster was a college student traveling through Europe in the summer of 1963. When she arrived in Salzburg, Austria to study at Oskar Kokoschka’s School of Vision, she envisioned a month of intensive painting, never expecting to find herself swept into a passionate affair. Nor did she imagine her lover to be a married instructor with a long history of indiscretions. Even at a young age, Marcia knew how to protect her heart. But it had never been taken by a man as overwhelming and sensual as Bill Thomson.

31 Days is the story of Marcia and Bill in Salzburg. 31 days that would redefine love, sex, passion, and permanence for a woman of twenty; and a month that would resonate in her life forever.

Deeply sensual, intensely vivid, and achingly beautiful 31 Days is a memoir that lives in all of us.


Born in Los Angeles, Marcia Gloster has lived the majority of her life in New York City. She began drawing as a young child, believing even then that it would lead her to a career in art. 

While in college, she spent a summer studying painting at Oskar Kokoschka’s School of Vision in Salzburg, Austria. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, she had hoped to continue painting while also working as an assistant art director in publishing. When that proved impossible, she put aside her brushes for many years while building her career as an award-winning art director and book designer. After working in London for two years, she returned to New York, becoming a founding partner of Peartree Advertising, a boutique advertising agency specializing in fashion.

Today, she works for selected clients consulting on marketing and graphic design. Most important, she has returned to her first love, painting. She is a member of the National Association of Women Artists in New York City and Studio Montclair in New Jersey and has exhibited her paintings in New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 31 Days: a Memoir of Seduction is her first book. 

She lives in New York with her husband, James Ammeen.



It was close to eleven when Bill finally entered the studio. Without so much as a glance at me, he stopped to talk to several of the students, mostly girls, about their paintings. 

Ignoring the tension I was beginning to feel, I tried to focus on my painting. I was over him, wasnt I?

Suddenly he was behind me. We have unfinished business, he said in a soft voice. Surprised, I turned to him. We do? I whispered.

Meet me outside on the parapet in five minutes.

But its not time for the break yet. 

He nodded. Five minutes. It wasnt a question.

I watched him cross the studio to talk with Barbara. As he looked back at me, I again felt the spark. What now? I asked myself. Did I really think he wouldnt come back to me after last night? Is this considered seduction? Hes not exactly asking me out for dinner and a movie, and I dont think a quiet lunch is quite what he has in mind. Unless Im lunch. I think we should get know each other first. But thats not going to happen, is it?

Finishing his conversation, he glanced quickly at me and left the studio.

Kate saw his glance and looked at me questioningly. Taking off the shirt I used as a smock, I whispered, Im leaving. At least I think I am. Ill see you later.

Incredulous, she whispered back, I thought we talked about this. After last night, youre going somewhere with him? What do you think you are doing?

I honestly dont know, but whatever it is, I have to do it. 

I dont think you should go anywhere near him. 

Youre right, I know it. But theres something that draws me to him. 

Kate shook her head. Youre making a big mistake, she said a bit louder. Several students nearby glanced at us.

I nodded, but turned and walked quickly to the girls bathroom. I ran a comb through my hair and put on some lipstick. Looking in the mirror, I asked myself again, What am I doing?

Ignoring my question, I went downstairs to the parapet. It was turning into another hot day and the sun refracted off the whitewashed walls of the fortress. Below, the roofs of the Old City glowed in the late morning light. Bill was standing, his back to the view, staring at me with a small smile as I walked toward him. He looked well, not hung over and confident as usual. There was no hint of last nights fiasco. 

Come with me, he said in a soft voice. Once again, it wasnt quite a question.

I paused, unsure of what to do.

Yes? he asked, taking my hand. 

I was sure this was a mistake especially after last night. But if I went with him, I could never allow myself to regret it, no matter what happened. Somehow I recalled a line from Oscar Wilde, The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

All right, I whispered. 

He turned, looking down the mountain. I dont want to take the cable car. Well walk down the path. We shouldnt be seen.

Were going to walk down this mountain? I thought, looking nervously over the wall at a steep, rocky drop. On what, a goat path?

I followed him to a narrow but traceable path that snaked down the mountain. Never considering Id be going for a hike, I was wearing sandals, and it was difficult navigating around the plants and rocks. Turning, I saw the fortress looming above us. I was certain this wasnt the first time he had taken this path but put the thought out of my mind.

Finally reaching the bottom, he took my hand, helping me over some loose stones. We had come out on a narrow cobblestone street not far from the cable station. Still holding my hand, he led me quickly through the back streets of the Altstadt, crossing the river at the Mozartsteg. Once on Steingasse I wasnt sure which building was his; it had been very late last night. Saying little to each other, we climbed the stairs to his flat and entered the darkened sitting room. Following him to the dimly lit hallway, I saw the door to Kraks room on the left and just ahead the small kitchen, where I now knew the vodka was stored. A white tiled bathroom with ancient fixtures was to the right and Bills bedroom just beyond. 

The night before, I had noticed very little. In the daylight I saw that the bed took up most of the stark, white-painted room, leaving a narrow space of only about three feet all around it. A small lamp sat on a walnut night table to the left of the bed and matched a distressed looking headboard that appeared to be attached to the wall. Opposite, a narrow window looked over the tiled roof of the building next door. In the corner, there was a white spindle-back chair with one of his shirts and a knitted tie draped neatly over it. The dark wood floors were scuffed and bare except for a small woven rug between the bed and the door. But on the far side of the bed, the casements of the window with the spectacular view were wide open, letting in a fresh breeze and flooding the room with bright summer light. Except for the soft, white comforter and a small, framed drawing of a reclining nude above the bed, the room had a simple, almost monastic sparsenessa sharp contrast to the man who occupied it. 

He started to pull down the shades. Do you have to do that? I asked tentatively. Its so beautiful here and were well above the street. 

He looked out the window, then back at me. You know, youre right, he said, as though he had never thought of it before. You wont mind the light?

I wont mind the light? Have I lost my mind? What the hell am I doing here? No, I whispered. 

He went to a phonograph sitting on the floor in the corner and put on a record, The Songs of the Auvergne, I found out later. The music was mesmerizing; the very air seemed to shimmer with the exquisite peasant songs sung in a clear soprano voice. I began to relax a little, at the same time well aware that I wasnt the first girl to experience the magic of those songs. But my natural curiosity had taken over and though I still thought this might turn out to be a mistake, there was something about him that held me there. I looked at him, realizing we had hardly said a word to each other.

Marcia, he said. Come here. I want you to kiss me.

Surprised, I moved close to him and kissed him lightly on the lips. He shook his head and backing away from me, he took off his coat and laid it carefully on the chair. Speaking softly, he said, That wasnt a kiss. I will teach you how to kiss.

I wasnt sure I understood what he was saying. I was twenty and I had kissed a fair number of guys without anyone ever complaining. Taking my face in his hands, he said, Puff out your lips, like a pout. I want to feel the softness of your lips, the inside of your bottom lip. Make them soft, open them, relax them.

Putting my hands on his shoulders, I kissed him. He told me to try again, and again and again, each time telling me in a gentle voice what I was doing, right or wrong. I wondered if my eyes should be open or closed, but after a minute or so it didnt matter any more. Our kisses were becoming more intense and the room seemed to be becoming warmer. Finally satisfied after a deep kiss that left me trembling, he stepped back and took off his shirt, putting it carefully on the chair along with his jacket. Turning back to me, he said seriously, Its too hot for clothes, and began to undress me. 

I was wearing the red dress I had bought on Saturday with Kate. His eyes never left mine as he unbuttoned it and slowly slid it off. He unhooked my bra, and I stepped out of my panties, blushing as an unfamiliar desire began to blossom inside, permeating my entire being with heat. 

Kissing me softly, he slowly started to caress me. Now I want you to watch me, he said.

Breathless, I sat down on the bed, fidgeting nervously and attempting to cover myself with the comforter, while at the same time looking anywhere but at him. Taking my hand, he told me in a soft but firm voice to look at him. I did, reluctantly. His body was lean but surprisingly strong and unlike the night before, he was very ready for me. I put my hand to his chest, feeling coarse hair and thinking, this is more than the difference between men and boys.

Bill became my tutor that day. Taking his time, he taught me how to touch him, when to be firm or gentle, when to move and when to stop, guiding me to enhance his every desire. At the same time, his hands were everywhere, slowly caressing and asking me to tell him how I felt. He was creating sensations I could never have imagined. 

He was slow, very slow, and every caress felt like feathers touched with fire. He began by kissing my eyes and then my lips, moving to my breasts and down my stomach. He parted my legs and started kissing me between them. I felt his fingers, gently teasing. The soft sounds I heard were coming from me. As my desire became almost unbearable, he slowly arched over me, whispering, You are on fire. 

I had no words to describe what he did to me that day. Tears were running down my face as I moved with him. Cautious about allowing myself an orgasm, there was no denying the intensity of the moment and it was a powerful, pure sensation. He was totally in control and I was way beyond thinking. This was far from the same man I had been with the night before.

While we were making love, the Songs continued to play, burning into my memory. At some point later, he got up to change the record.

No, Bill, I said, please, dont change it. Its so beautiful, please play it again. 

Nodding, he put it on again. 

Resting, we lay together and talked quietly, his hands moving over me in soft, slow caresses. 

Can I ask you a question? I whispered.

He nodded, but seemed suddenly tense.

I asked him to tell me about London; where he lived and more importantly, about his painting. 

He appeared to relax and looking at me, he said, I have a flat in Chelsea and thats also where I have my studio. I dont have any photographs here of my work but if I had to describe it, I would say my paintings tend toward impressionism but with a more contemporary edge. If you want to know what I like the most, it would be drawing and painting nudes. 

I asked if he painted every day. 

Almost every day. I also teach drawing at St. Martins. After all, one needs to make a living, although I do sell quite a lot.

He said he loved teaching and felt gratified by it. When he had been asked to become an instructor at Kokoschkas school, he had welcomed the chance. He felt it gave him a change from London and he always returned home with renewed energy. 

Ive never had a real, everyday job, he said. I started selling when I was still studying art. I have to be free, alone really, to work on my paintings. 

He said his friends were mostly artists and actors but he didnt mind spending time with potential buyers and collectors. After all, they do buy my work and I feel they deserve some of my time.

I was facing him, my head resting on his right shoulder. I could feel his hands beginning to caress me again. He asked me about myself and I told him about my painting. I hardly recognized my own voice, which had become strangely low and raspy. I said I was tending toward impressionism as well, although I was just beginning to develop a real direction in my paintings. I added that for the past year I had been working closely with one of my instructors who understood what I was trying to do.

He looked at me with a silent question. 

No, Im not sleeping with him. Im not that kind of girl. 

He laughed.

I was starting to explain more, but he leaned over to kiss me. I felt tremors running through my body. Turn over, he said softly. There was no rushing, just teasing, soft caresses, and gentle hands pulling me to my knees. I felt him move behind me and then the intensity and heat of his body on mine. 

I had never experienced such pleasure. It was as though all the shimmering warmth and beauty of the day had coalesced into an incandescent moment beyond time, creating a sensual transcendence that defied reason and denied all thought. 

Exhausted, we finally slept. 

I woke as he got up and went into the bathroom. Its after four, he said. I have to get back before the end of the day. Do you want to come back to the studio?

I sat up, dropping the comforter in front of me. I told him Id rather go back to the flat. I knew how to get there and since I hadnt gotten much sleep last night, I was tired. He smiled, ignoring my comment.

As I started to get out of bed, I saw him staring at me. He came over, moving me back on the bed and began making love to me again. This time it was quick and we laughed about it.
Put some clothes on, luv. Do it quickly or well never get out of here. 


Anyone who follows my blog or my book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads is in for the most inconsistent exploration of literature they will ever find, possibly.   Don't follow me if all you want to read are reviews in just young adult or romance or horror or mystery suspense.    I'll throw a review in of any genre at any moment.   I even shock myself with my eclectic reading.

31 Days:  A Memoir of Seduction, is just that....non fiction, a memoir.   It could be categorized as autobiography and it could be classified as romance.   Is there a genre for heartbreaking?

From the moment I began to read, I found it difficult to separate myself from this book.   I could not let the story lapse for any length of time.  I give credit to Gloster for her writing ability.    Her story was captivating, flowed smoothly and drew this reader in for the long journey.   She was able make the reader connect with her characters and not just the main characters...all of them.  She told her story beautifully and responsibly and made the journey from naive young woman to a thoughtful and wise woman.

Gloster was able to stir the emotions and as much as I empathized with her youthful character, my tears fell for the temporariness of it all.  But that is what life is, only temporary.   We alone can make the most of this life we are given and Gloster did her best to succeed in life and love, learning from her mistakes and continuing forward.  

If you can empathize with youth, and recognize that we don't always get the happily ever after, and yet there is always hope and opportunities to be taken advantage of, then you will suffer with the characters and eventually triumph as well, you will love this book.   I rated it a 5 wink read.

Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.  I received a copy of this book from the author or their representative in exchange for an honest review.

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