Top positive review
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Politics and Perversion
on 25 January 2005
Having read the other reviews on here (and Wildes recommendation!), and being a fan of this type of literature anyway, I decided to give this book a try. Despite having a cover that mimics a bad black lace novel (oh come on, it really does!) I was pleasantly surprised that the old adage is true and you can't, indeed, judge a book by its cover.
The book is divided into two distinct and utterly different parts. The first deals with society as a whole, discussing the various politics, hypocrisies and foibles of the (then) modern 'civilised' life and building up the introduction to the second part. On it's own, this text represents a wonderful and thought-provoking read, the only slight criticism being that it does lean towards being an unnecessarily long introduction to the second part of the book; The Torture Garden itself.
The second part is made up of wonderfully illustrative, creative writing which, when coupled with smatterings of horror and torture, make for a fascinating and interesting read. The 'love interest' in this book takes the form of Clara, a beautiful and wealthy woman with a taste for the unusual. Clara is described beautifully, as are her surroundings, and you read in fascination as she seems to become detached, lustful, unstable, perverse and everything in between throughout this incredible second part.
*Slight spoiler* The main character makes an interesting transition through the book; from a criminal and a rogue, who sees himself as the darkest and most evil of creatures, who becomes what can only be described as a simpering and whining fop who, by the end of the book, seems utterly incapable of controlling his emotions.
It does have to be said, the book is not quite as shocking as some of the other reviewers may have you believe. If you have ever been to Amsterdam, Prague or London etc. and looked at a torture museum, or know anything about historical torture (Dark Ages etc.), then there is nothing in here that you would not have seen before. Perhaps I am somewhat more jaded than others, but I was expecting to be shocked, horrified and disturbed and, when this failed to occur, I was unfortunately left with a feeling of disappointment.
Putting aside the ever-constant problem of over-expectation, this is an exquisitely written book with incredible dialogue, wondrously lush descriptive writing and a rather unique subject matter that is absolutely worth the read.