Sara Vilkomerson
February 10, 2012 AT 05:00 AM EST

History of a Pleasure Seeker

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Richard Mason
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Piet Barol, the young protagonist of Richard Mason’s thoroughly engaging fourth novel, possesses such intense social ambition that even Edith Wharton would be impressed. It’s turn-of-the-century Amsterdam, and the charming Piet is hired as a tutor for the troubled son of a grand old family residing in an even grander house. Before long, members of the household fall prey to Piet’s seductions. Mason’s prose is lovely and rich, but the plot of History of a Pleasure Seeker — which goes to New York City during the financial crisis of 1907 as well as Cape Town, South Africa — loses a bit of oomph in the final chapters. B+

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