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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Erotic Writing
There's no doubt that it's the heady and compelling eroticism of this gem of a book which leaves the most lasting impression. Extended passages of rich, sensuous, almost tactile, prose - recounting tales of sexual pursuit and conquest - play upon the senses like a complex perfume. Through Richard Mason's artistry, the reader finds him or herself (and in this world...
Published on 11 Nov. 2012 by Swellms

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3.0 out of 5 stars 'adventures of adolescence' says it all
If you're looking for a lush, sensuous piece of erotica with beautiful, vivid characters and descriptions with the power to drag you into its world and make you smell every fragrance, hear every voice, feel every bead of sweat as if it was your own...look no further.

But if you're after something with a little thematic depth, then this tale of hedonism might...
Published on 16 April 2013 by TogekissWings


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Erotic Writing, 11 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: History of a Pleasure Seeker (Paperback)
There's no doubt that it's the heady and compelling eroticism of this gem of a book which leaves the most lasting impression. Extended passages of rich, sensuous, almost tactile, prose - recounting tales of sexual pursuit and conquest - play upon the senses like a complex perfume. Through Richard Mason's artistry, the reader finds him or herself (and in this world gender counts for very little) placed centre-stage as the Pleasure Seeker of the title.

The story recounts the progress of Piet Barol, a well-educated but lowly born young man setting out to pursue a fortune in Amsterdam in 1907. Barol - who the first sentence of the book tells us was "extremely attractive to most women and many men" - manages to secure a job as tutor to a young child of the very wealthy Vermeulen Sickerts family. This brings him into contact with Maarten, the head of the family who sees him as a surrogate son, Jacobina, his frustrated wife who sees him as anything but, the couple's daughters, and a variety of characters amongst the serving staff. Barol's interaction with most of these is charged with some level of sexual tension, which plays out in a variety of ways.

But don't imagine this to be some kind of literary "Confessions of..." Yes, it is very sexy in places. But our hero doesn't avail himself of every erotic offering which comes his way. His fear of venereal disease, his awareness that unchecked passion may undermine the ambition which is the one thing more powerful than his libido, and his deep sense of his place, all combine to restrain him at times. Restraint in fact features prominently in the story, and many of the erotic passages concern the contemplation, as much as the having, of sex. In this sense, it is deeply grounded in reality.

And there is much more as well. A detailed picture of the rising Dutch middle class at the beginning of the twentieth century. An all-too-familiar tale of greed and banking crisis. Art and music. Religious doubt and conviction. Coping with extreme OCD. Some early stirrings of feminism.

This diverse mix of threads is woven into a compelling story with great skill. The writing oozes voluptuousness and quality, but things still move along at a good pace. Mason has no problem with switching point-of-view at will. He manages to align our sympathies with a hero who could very easily have turned out to be odious and repulsive. And he knows precisely the moment to season his literary prose with the strongest of Anglo-Saxon words.

Some people have said that they find the ending too sudden and a little unconvincing. Maybe, but we are promised that there is more to come, and I for one, like many of the characters in this very pleasing book, am gagging for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bel--but benign--Ami - 4+, 10 July 2013
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of a Pleasure Seeker (Paperback)
Delicious story of a handsome, lower-class Dutchman (Piet Barol) with great charm, manners, street-sense and dripping pheromones whose position as a tutor to a neurotic child in Belle Epoque Amsterdam him the fair-haired boy of the household. Barol is ambitious, but not scheming or avaricious. He genuinely wants to succeed at his job and to please his wealthy employers. Ultimately, he conquers each member of the boy's family as well as all of his fellow servants. His sexual attraction is strongest for his employer's wife, who quickly assigns him "extra" duties that are no longer performed by her abstinent husband.

By the time he eventually succeeds in curing his tutoree's main problems--agoraphobia and extreme obsessive/compulsivenes--his relationships with virtually everyone in the house have become so complicated that a change in venue is needed. This leads to a cruise on a luxury liner to Capetown, South Africa and further pheromonal success.

The saga of Piet Barol is continuously satisfying--piquantly erotic, rich in complicated relationships (almost Marx Brothersish at times), and skillfully evocative of the time (1907), place (Amsterdam, New York and Capetown) and culture (high bourgeois). Besides the protagonist Barol, author Richard Mason has invented some pithy, sympathetic and very interesting characters who play credible supporting roles in the story.

A fine read that finishes with the explicit promise of a second book to follow
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1907 Holland brought to life with a loveable rogue!, 26 July 2012
This review is from: History of a Pleasure Seeker (Paperback)
I've never read a Richard Mason book, but i instantly feel in love with this novel. The main character is Piet Barol who relies on his charm and wit to carry him through life, and he takes a position as a tutor to a wealty Dutch family. This family quickly embraces him, and he manages to negiotate a happy balance between 'above' and 'below' stairs. The Vermeulen-Sickert family is also a lot more complex than Piet first imagines: The father Maarten is a hotelier struggling with both a son who is agro-phobic amongst other phobias, a uncooperative American finical situation and his own religious doubts which have left him showing no interest in his wife, who in turn begins to look to Barol to fill her desires...
The novel towards the end sees a shift in Barol's control and both Barol and the reader are made aware of just how delicate a balance of class structure, money and the friendship of others are made with Barol choosing charm over honesty.
Some other reviewers have made a lot about the amount of sex in this novel, but it is not the main theme, it is more another of Barol's 'tools' to both blend and gain a sense of belonging. Great novel for book clubs as well as i'm sure people will both be either drawn to the adventure of Barol's life or see him for more of a 'Talented Mr Ripley' false character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (He) spent a very pleasant half-hour watching the gorgeous young men..., 9 Oct. 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of a Pleasure Seeker (Paperback)
It is towards the end of La Belle Epoque, 1907 in Amsterdam when the reader is introduced to Piet Barol, a young adventurously inclined Dutchman, He has been sent to the Gilded Curve, to one of the finest houses, to apply for the post of tutor to a young boy, Egbert Vermeulen Sickerts. Piet is nervous, can he carry off an interview with enough panache to present himself as the ideal candidate? He can, as it happens, and so he begins a period of enlightenment - sensual, social and intellectual. He becomes a trusted friend to one of the other male servants Didier Loubat and is accepted into family life with good will. But the wife of the family, Jacobina, is willing, under her own strong constraints, to educate Piet in quite another way.

The New York stock-exchange unreliabilities of the time almost mean the ruin of the Vermeulen Sickerts', but matters converge to give Piet his chance to set out on life's greater adventures aboard the Eugenie, to Cape town. His adventures continue aboard ship, and after. There is some tender and eventful sexual adventuring too, but in fact this book is deeply, pleasurably sensual without being crude. The atmosphere of the various parts of the world visited are quite well conveyed and Piet himself is an agreeable protagonist. In all, this is an excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amsterdam loving, pre-Downton, 11 Sept. 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: History of a Pleasure Seeker (Paperback)
I wasn't sure what I'd make of this. Would it all be about sexual pleasure? A bit of a Fanny Hill?

Well, there were scenes 'of a sexual nature', seductions, etc, but the story that included them is about a social climber, blessed with good looks, charm and an intelligent mind. Hired to tutor and help a trouble son of Amsterdam's richest family in 1907, we are treated to a vivid impression of the city and the lives within in at the time, through Piet Barol's ambitious eyes.

He's happy to do what he must, though always calculating risk against pleasure, he worms into the family and starts affecting everyone there.

Very enjoyable period piece with an almost amoral but not quite hero, whom you actually quite like and root for, and a good set of other characters who flesh out the setting and remain interesting throughout.

Nicely detailed, fun read that brings the period alive (just pre-Downton I think), with a few 'scenes' to make the title accurate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly addictive, sensual and nothing held back, 7 Mar. 2012
Richard Mason's quality of writing and his attention to detail is awesome. He skillfully takes you back in time and you really get to "feel" the characters and sense the surroundings - you are there. You get to experience complexities in human nature that are eminently relevant in today's world. This book is highly addictive and hard to put down. The main character, Piet Barol, has the world in his pocket. His journey, first in Amsterdam and then on a ship to Cape Town, involves some amazing relationships with a delicious range of characters. It was really nice to read an intense, sensual and masterpiece classic-like story with the filter button set to OFF.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'adventures of adolescence' says it all, 16 April 2013
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If you're looking for a lush, sensuous piece of erotica with beautiful, vivid characters and descriptions with the power to drag you into its world and make you smell every fragrance, hear every voice, feel every bead of sweat as if it was your own...look no further.

But if you're after something with a little thematic depth, then this tale of hedonism might prove a little too shallow and frustrating, as the author frequently drops the opportunity to deepen the story and seemingly not through lack of talent, but merely lack of interest. It often felt to me like Dorian Gray complete with all the breathtaking imagery but minus Wilde's integral moral core - without which this tale is simply young pretty people running around enjoying themselves, and though there's nothing wrong with that, literature and television alike certainly have quite enough of it already. I don't ask for an Aesop's fable in everything I read, but some kind of heart buried beneath the perfumed, gilded opulence would've been a refreshing find.

Overall a gorgeously woven summer read to get swept up in and keep you amused for a few nights, but I personally did not find out poignant or mature enough to stay in my memory as other fervent tales of ardour and beauty have, such as the aforementioned Dorian Gray, or Nabokov's masterpiece Lolita.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sauce!, 29 May 2013
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I came to this book after reading 'One Day', given that that novel is not my usual kind of read it took me by surprise when I was utterly forlorn on finishing it. Enter 'History of a Pleasure Seeker'! I was thrilled, amused and excited (I haven't read the 'Fifty Shades...' trilogy but I am confident that some scenes in this are better) and Dexter and whatsherface were a distant memory. It has a fantastic story, is beautifully written and I couldn't wait to bury my head in it at every opportunity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LUCK OF THE DRAW, 4 May 2011
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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Meet Piet Barol, a charmer who lives on his wits. Ultra good-looking, he causes more than just female hearts to flutter. In 1907 he joins the household of one of Amsterdam's richest families to tutor seriously disturbed ten year old Egbert. Ahead lie temptations and challenges. Will his usual luck hold, he yet again to land on his feet...?

The book is a light, enjoyable enough read - erotic sequences bound to boost sales. Although the various escapades entertain, some may find the novel's serious aspects more absorbing. One movingly concerns Piet's mother, now dead. Painstakingly she had instructed him in the ways of the rich, so he could rise from poverty to move smoothly in exalted circles. To her he owes everything. Then there is the plight of the little boy tormented by imagined "shadows" decreeing how he should act - he in such a state everything compulsively has to be done several times over, he even too scared to set foot outside the house. The family despairs, as did previous tutors. Is Piet likely to fare any better at conquering those fears?

With a change of direction, the novel perhaps tails off at the end. For many, however, appetite has been whetted to justify delight that Piet's exploits are "to be continued". This could be interesting, as The Great War fast approaches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly good read, 11 July 2012
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We read this as a book club book. Unusually every single reader had finished the book and, UNHEARD OF, we all enjoyed it. This is an author who is a first class storyteller. All the characters were fully fleshed, the story hung together excellently and the author is really good at giving the reader a sense of the time and setting. There were just a couple of passages that weren't up to the overall standard and I think we only discussed those because we felt we had to find a negative! Thoroughly recommended - we can't wait for the next instalment.
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History of a Pleasure Seeker
History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason (Paperback - 12 April 2012)
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