the pleasures of men – kate williams

The Pleasures of Men

We chose this book as our February read for E17 Book Club. it was a great choice for its comical opportunities when speaking about it on Twitter to one of the male Book Club members. (eg: Are you getting into The Pleasures of Men? Has the Pleasures of Men brought you much enjoyment? – you know the type of thing!)

It’s an historical thriller set in Victorian London. Catherine Sorgeiul lives in a rambling house in the East End – not only is it the wrong side of London, it’s also falling apart around the edges, and isn’t excactly high interior fashion, instead decorated with her uncle’s curios from his travels. All of this taken into account, it’s no surprise that Catherine hasn’t exactly beden accepted into London society.

None of this is helped by the fact that Catherine blames herself for what happened to her brother, which resulted in her living with her uncle!

Catherine has also become fascinated with a local serial killer who has been ripping women to shreds and has been coined by the press as The Man Of Crows. But could her fascination with him put her into danger? Is she closer to him than she realises?

This book held so much promise – from an hitorian I was expecting gritty, atmospheric streets of London, from the cover picture I was expecting a strong, independant woman, from the name I was expecting some naughty bits (and maybe more than just a few heaving bosoms!)

Well, the London streets were impeccably brought to life, the scene-setting was brilliant. I could almost smell the awful foul-stench ridden place.

Unfortunately though my excitement with this book stopped there. i kept expecting that something was just about to happen, and it never really did. there seemed to be so many ideas, so many glimmers of interesting storylines that were just never really padded out.

In fact, there was one specific story thread that should have resulted in high drama, seemed to be building up to an enormous climax, but then the outcome was told in such a matter-of-fact manner that it felt a real let down.

I literally felt like I had been wasting my time reading the book. In discussion, it seemed that most of us were still guessing as to what had actually happened in certain parts – even the end.

I did love reading all the descriptions of the dresses, the buildings, the streets and the smells, but really, if I had wanted a history lesson, I would’ve picked up a history book! Disappointing.


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