I recently read this for my local book group, and was surprised at the division the book caused. People either loved it and found it a pleasure to read or hated it. Personally, i found the simple style of writing, the shift in perspectives and the sketching of the characters effective. Others in the group argued differently, that the writing was too simple, and the characters barely two dimensional.
This is not a complex book, and if you prefer thought provoking texts then i would not recommend this to you. If you enjoy a story where you get all the angles from the different characters, and are thus invited to have sympathy with them on an individual level, then this is for you. I would not think it is a man's book as such - the tone of the novel is very much biased towards the main femaile character. When her husband discovers that she is having an affair, he is far more angry at the man she has been sleeping with and there is little if any wrath directed towards his wife, which i found hard to believe. At the heart of the story seems to be the search for Sophia to gain control over her life. One of the most powerful images in the book is when she describes herself as a blackboard covered in the scrawls of others, not one mark her own. The poverty of her youth meant she had to marry a wealthy man of advanced years to help her family. In some ways, she is no less a puppet to van Loos who decides he wants her and wastes no time worrying about any scandal that may envelop her in the process. True, he does love her, but i wonder if it is a love which would have withstood the test of penury. Her final choice is what the book has been building up to - her freedom from the men in her life and the power to choose her own path.