Reviews of Apprenticed to Venus

“Getting to know lust, love, and Anaïs Nin….In 1962, Rainer (Your Life as Story, 1997, etc.) met Cuban-born Nin, the noted diarist, while on an errand for her godmother…So begins her spicy and saucy hybrid of memoir and novel…. Over the next 15 years… she became a close friend and mentor to Rainer(and) Rainer became a devotee of Nin’s philosophy of life: “A woman has an equal right to pleasure as a man.”…Over time, she realized that Nin was a “deeply flawed person—a narcissist, a bigamist, a liar, and a deviant,” but she was also “so loveable.” Feminists and fans of Nin’s work will enjoy this unique insider’s portrait…”

“Mysterious, glamorous, intellectual: these are all words that come to mind when the writer Anaïs Nin’s myth is evoked. But rarely have fans had an unchaperoned glimpse inside her life. …When she entered Nin’s apartment, Rainer was immediately enraptured by the rich life she saw around her and the secrets that lay just below the surface…with vivid language and lush scenes, this memoir makes an exiting read.”

“Imagine being an inexperienced 18-year-old college girl from the San Fernando Valley…in the orbit of controversial writer and diarist Anaïs Nin. In “Apprenticed to Venus,” Tristine Rainer shares her experiences with the author of the erotic bestseller “The Delta of Venus” and lover of Henry Miller as she came into her own sexuality and womanhood. Nin comes across as a slightly sinister, taboo-breaking Auntie Mame, but undoubtedly one with a lot to teach.”
—San Francisco Chronicle, “Best Beach Read”

“Rainer blends memoir and imagination in this engaging examination of her relationship with author Anaïs Nin . . . a fascinating personal journey.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“Tristine Rainer shares her complicated relationship with a famed writer in Apprenticed to Venus…Rainer was just 18 when they met, and Nin took her under her wing, acting as a mentor. There was good and bad to the friendship, though, making it all the more fascinating.”
—Bustle, “Best Non-fiction”

“Rainer, who became an expert on diaries and memoir, candidly and vividly recounts her role in Nin’s astoundingly duplicitous life in an irresistible mix of fact, memory, and storytelling she calls a “novoir.” Along with fresh insights into gender roles, Rainer offers stunning revelations about the publication of Nin’s cagily edited diaries and the misplaced reverence the writer accrued as a feminist icon. Describing Nin as “brave and dishonest” and “a visionary of life itself as imaginary theater” Rainer brings this “artist/goddess” who wrote “to taste life twice” into sharper focus…”
—Booklist, July 1, 2017

“There are fateful decisions which mark one for life. Young Tristine Rainer’s first encounter with charismatic, enigmatic Anaïs Nin unfolds into a decades-long apprenticeship suspenseful as a thriller. The advantages and perils of a mentor/apprentice relationship with such a seductive, brilliant and dangerous mentor is absolutely spellbinding. Revelations, especially toward the end of the book, changed my understanding of the Nin story” —Janet Fitch, New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black

You can read Janet Fitch’s full Goodreads review at:

“This stunning, achingly honest memoir confirms that the erotic is neither obscene nor ordinary, and that the heart’s desire is both dangerous and innocent.”

—Mark Sundeen, author of The Unsettlers and The Man Who Quit Money

“This is one of those delicious memoirs one can’t stop reading. And who could resist Nin herself, that flamboyant and sexually compulsive diva, a key figure in the women’s movement, a complex artist who made her own life into her most arresting work of art? Tristine Rainer takes us into the hot pulsing heart of Nin’s world. Better her than me. But she has lived to tell the tale, and it’s an alluring as well as compulsively readable story.”

—Jay Parini, author of Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal

“Tristine Rainer had a relationship like none other with noted diarist Anaïs Nin. She was Nin’s confident, mentee, alibi, and now is the chronicler of their close relationship and the dual life Nin kept. Rainer writes of the well-documented Nin, finally giving readers textures and the truth. Here we have the full story of being an apprentice to Anaïs Nin, that lets us see how her influenced healed, shaped, distorted, and ultimately gave a young woman a stronger sense of self.”

—Steven Reigns, Poet and Nin Scholar

“The action-packed adventures of the larger-than-life Anaïs Nin and her young friend Tristine are vivid and glorious, but what broke my heart wide open were the haunting meditations on passion and devotion and the secrets that bond and bind us. A brave and beautiful work.”

—Kathleen Adams, author of Journal to the Self

“Stunning, intoxicating, original. Apprenticed to Venus is nothing short of phenomenal, and we owe Tristine as much for her craftsmanship as we do Anaïs for flipping infidelity on its chauvinist head!”

—Chip Jacobs, author of Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler

“A fascinating introduction to an extraordinary woman who raised lying to an art form, but whose essential honesty transcends the falsehoods. A book that will challenge and enthrall.”

—Joanna Hodgkin, author of Amateurs in Eden: The Story of a Bohemian Marriage: Nancy and Lawrence Durrell

“What makes this memoir so touching is that (Rainer) tackles the thorny parts of her relationship (with Nin) with love and understanding that could only be born of the wisdom that only comes with age….I could not put the book down and when I finally did, I was wrecked….This story is so well-told, so poignant and moving.”

—Crystal King, author of Feast of Sorrow

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