Tuesday, January 24, 2012

History of a Pleasure Seeker-Richard Mason

History of a Pleasure Seeker

Richard Mason

Knopf, Feb 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599476

Piet Barol leaned in his recent adolescence that he is a pleasure magnet to most women and many men. He knows his charm comes from his late mom as his dad is a grim university administrator. Thus Piet uses his looks and gracefulness to obtain whatever he desires.

In 1907 in Amsterdam, Piet becomes a tutor to preadolescent mentally ill piano protégé Egbert Vermeulen-Sickerts. Heeding the advice of a footman, Piet avoids the daughters of his sexual abstemious employer but the wife is fair game. However, while almost everyone in the household adores Piet, he has one key adversary, Daughter Louisa, who strips away his charming veneer with a look of scorn. However, he begins to understand his student’s issues as the martinet father brings the wrath of rigid strictness to his son.

This is an intriguing morality tale starring a fascinating protagonist who is not so much a pleasure seeker but a pleasure giver who wants to do right by his student and help others with their tsuris. The key cast members are fully developed as they anchor time and place, and enable the reader to better understand the title protagonist. Although the ending serves only the purpose of setting up the further adventures of the pleasure seeker in South Africa, fans will enjoy his Dutch escapes as The Netherlands in the Queen Wilhelmina Era come to light.

Harriet Klausner

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