A's Reviews > History of a Pleasure Seeker

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard       Mason
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2012
Read from February 10 to 11, 2012

An utterly charming, witty, and engrossing sex romp done up in the trappings of a Henry James or Edith Wharton novel. At times it seems nearly impossible that this book was written in this century: Mason nails James's and Wharton's exhilariting milieu of belle epoque glamour and Gilded Age intrigue, while keeping the tone light and leaving out the more depressing aspects of literature of that era, be it James's paralyzing emotional density or Wharton's undertow of stultifying classism and woe. Though this book is not nearly as affecting as Towles's book -- this is a really light and breezy read -- I'm reminded of Amor Towles's The Rules of Civility, a novel written in 2011 (and with thoroughly modern preoccupations) that was not only set in a pitch-perfect recreation of Jazz Age New York, but was so stylistically flawless it felt like it was written by a contemporary of the characters.

Anyway. I'll admit that, yes, the titular pleasure seeker feels a little preposterously constructed: in just 279pp., Piet Barol cures autism, saves the American economy, rekindles a frigid marriage, outclasses the upper classes, jump-starts women's lib in Europe -- and of course does it all while having stunning blue eyes, a beautiful body, and a gigantic cock of "remarkable girth and enduring stolidity." But I think the point here is that everything is meant to be a little preposterous. This is a thrilling trifle of an adventure novel with about as much heft and seriousness as the magnums of Champagne that are consumed near-constantly throughout the book. One review compared Piet Barol to a "bisexual Flashman," and that seems accurate -- though Piet is much more dignified, fair, and suave than the brash Flashman, and MY LANDS does he enjoy it when a man eats his butthole! In the end (har har), I enjoyed this book thoroughly and cannot wait for the next installment.
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message 1: by Gwen (new)

Gwen I'm envious. I had an idea for something like this years ago, and this sounds even more absurd than I could have ever written it. I'll have to remember this one for the next time I feel like some guilty pleasure reading.

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