The Pleasures of Men

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Pleasures of Men was one of those books that I thought would be very interesting. Not only because the author was a well known non-fiction writer, but also because the story line seemed different from everything that I was reading so far this year. I love the cover. Not only does it depict the time of novel but also the plot as well (with the insertion of the knife). But sadly, my love for the cover was as far as it went. As I started reading, I found the language to be very appropriate, that did not bother me, but Kate Williams' style of writing did. Her chapters were excessively long and seemed to ramble in places, and her characters were not very well developed.

In The Pleasures of Men we follow a young girl named Catherine who becomes obsessed with a serial killer named the Man of Crows. Now, the best part of this book to me was the murders, and Catherine's obsession. What threw me off completely was the way Kate chose to change perspective many times. I have read novels previously that had this element and it did not bother me, and I believe that the abruptness of the change and the lack of fluidity made this part of the novel very hard to read and to follow. Kate went from Catherine's perspective, to the killers, to the maids, to the neighbors' and back to Catherine again. The other issue I had with the perspective was the lack of acknowledging which character we were reading. At one point I was reading a chapter and had no idea who was speaking until a reference of another character showed up. This made reading this book very difficult for me.

While reading I always found myself wanting more action. When Kate would describe a death or the murder scene I found myself engrossed in the book, but then it would end and Kate would go back to describing the scenery and Catherine, along with her delusions and her weird ability to see the women that have been killed. As I have said before, the writing style was very Victorian and true to its time, but I found the plot unraveled too slowly for me and the revelation at the end did not give me the satisfaction I desperately wanted.  This was a valiant effort for Kate Williams to proceed into the world of Historical Fiction, but to be completely honest, I think she should stay where she shines; in the world of Historical Biography.

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