Frances Wilson

Fatal Hat-traction

Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire

By

Oxford University Press 262pp £20 order from our bookshop

What do women want? Freud’s great conundrum, the unsolved riddle of a lifetime’s thought, continues to confound men and divide women. According to the Spice Girls, what we really really want is to zigazig ah, but for E L James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, all we want is a man who does the washing-up. In Heartthrobs, Carol Dyhouse, professor emeritus of history at Sussex University, ‘narrows the question down’, as she puts it, to ‘what women have found irresistibly attractive in men’, which is something else entirely. Knowing what you want on a philosophical level and knowing what you like in a chap are two different things.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,
    • 'I did occasionally wonder whether Rupert Murdoch ... might have instructed his editors at William Collins to produ… ,