The Pleasures of Men
read like a badly televised version of Henry James The Turn of the Screw
with a dash of Sarah Waters and Michael Cox added in.
There isn't any new ground covered in this novel. I didn't learn anything about the human condition of why people are attracted to serial killers. Blaming yourself for a dead relative might make a good case for a ghost story but this girl was just a drama queen.
I wasn't satisfied by any of the relationships established here.
The story of a prickly girl who becomes obsessed with a serial killer who happens to be her next door neighbour
isn't new. The Canadian film The Good Neighbor
comes to my mind. Boy was Scott Speedman disgusting in that.
The book is all atmosphere but has no heart.
With the exception of A Little Stranger
Waters books had heart. Affinity worked because Meg did desire love.
This book was too cold and judgmental for me to fall into it's spell.
The Edwarda part was brutal and interesting at least. That could have led to a different and better story. However, Michael Cox already did the servant revenge scheme.
The main problem I had with this novel was the characters kept switching pov but often they didn't feel like real characters but possibly her stories with no lead in and then back to Catherine. It was nauseating at times. This led to me distrusting Catherine as a narrator throughout the book since the writing of people in her stories were very teenage girlish. This might have worked in a different book. I suppose Williams wanted to separate the stories from the novel but there should have been a clearer cut way to do this.
She did change the voice. I'll give her that Catherine wrote like a girl with very limited world experience. I just didn't want to read that kind of book.
I usually skip the readers notes at the back of books but this one suggested Catherine was the killer. Williams is wearing her influences on her sleeve if that were the case. But when the narrator is the killer what would be the point of the novel then? I hate films or books where the main character is telling you the story but withholds that information. I'll be boring and stick with the established killer or my head will start to hurt.