History of a Pleasure-Seeker

Knopf. Feb. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780307599476. $25.95; eISBN 9780307957528. LITERARY
OrangeReviewStarWhat would you do if you were Piet Barol, charismatic, head-turningly handsome, and ambitious for the best things in life yet raised in shabby circumstances and now, after the death of his sophisticated Parisienne mother, stuck with a glum academic father in a shack that has an outhouse? You'd accept Jacobina Vermeulen-Sickerts's invitation to interview for a job as tutor to young son Egbert, a brilliant pianist so powerfully phobic he cannot leave the house. Since the Vermeulen-Sickertses are among the wealthiest families of early 1900s Amsterdam, Piet is soon savoring the truly elegant life. He handles himself smoothly with the two spoiled Vermeulen-Sickerts daughters and mightily impresses the father, but not the least of his pleasures is his relationship with affection-starved Jacobina. When Piet leaves, only half in triumph, he's managed to heal some family wounds, though it takes him longer to learn which pleasures he should really seek.
VERDICT Mason (Natural Elements) writes lushly, and he persuasively gets readers to side with Piet, despite his oily manipulations
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