As ever with Richard Mason's work, this is thoroughly enjoyable, unexpected and a delight. I've admired this author's work for a long time, he writes compelling stories with interesting, layered characters.
I find his style elegant. It is precise, he doesn't waste words. It's unshowy, it gets out of its own way. It's not 'look at me' writing - it's clever, not pretentious. As a result it's easy to get absorbed in the book and only notice later how real and warm and living the contents felt.
I probably would recommend reading History Of A Pleasure Seeker before its sequel, but it's not absolutely necessary and is only suggested so as to increase a reader's enjoyment.