Jennifer's Reviews > History of a Pleasure Seeker

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard       Mason
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 09, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012

History of a Pleasure Seeker is a fun, frothy, sex romp. It's a book about class but there is nothing new to be learned here about "the haves" and "the have nots". Mason creates an appealing setting - a 1907 upper class household in Amsterdam where Piet Barol comes to tutor the young, agoraphobic son Egbert and ingratiates himself into the family along the way. It's fun to read about the flirting, the messages conveyed through the cut of a dress, the looks given across the grand piano as Piet plays meaningful opera arias.

Mason writes as an omniscient narrator - getting inside the heads of multiple characters (even a horse who is affronted by Piet's lack of riding experience! Really?). I found this technique diffused whatever tension might have been built. Piet is sure that his little messages are understood (something like: I will play this song from Carmen because it shows that I clearly want to have sex with Egbert's mother but only she will know) and then we also read the other character's reactions or follow them as they try to attract Piet. Bottom line is the reader knows too much. We never wonder if an assignation will take place - we know from both sides that it will. We know who is attracted to whom at all times (Spoiler - EVERYONE is attracted to Piet.)

The story of a servant striving to climb the ladder of society is nothing new and it's been done better in books where the stakes are higher and the protagonist is more daring. Mason wants the reader to like Piet and seems afraid to make him much of a scoundrel. There are many more women (and men) to bed and advantages to be had but Piet doesn't want to rock the boat and feels too much affection for the family to push those limits that would have been entertaining to the reader and raised the stakes of the story. The book lacks the tragedy of Fitzgerald's Gatsby or the phycological tension of Highsmith's Ripley. Piet really doesn't have much to lose. He made his small fortune in 11 months and the reader has no doubt that it lost, he could remake it with his easy charms. So when the stakes are low the tension and suspense of the story are also low.

The book ends with the words "To be continued" - seems cocky to assume that we want more, doesn't it? While this was a fast, enjoyable read I don't think there is enough here to compel me to read the next installment.
3 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read History of a Pleasure Seeker.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Chris Well, that's a disappointment, I had high hopes for this. I like the beach idea, I never have books like that! :-) I wanted to read this before April, but I think I'll wait...

Jennifer I know, this was one that I was excited to read and I did enjoy the story. But it really was light and almost silly in parts the way people react to him and everyone wants him etc. And yet - plenty of 5 star reviews on Goodreads so maybe I'm just the odd one out.

Jerry absolutely silly.

back to top