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“Forgive me, but I’m having some difficulty ascertaining exactly where magnetic north lies on your moral compass.” London, 177—: Apprentice wig-maker Tom Dawne’s dream is to complete his training, marry his master’s daughter, and set up a shop of his own. Unfortunately for him, when one of his greatest creations is used to play a cruel prank on a powerful gentleman, Tom “Forgive me, but I’m having some difficulty ascertaining exactly where magnetic north lies on your moral compass.” London, 177—: Apprentice wig-maker Tom Dawne’s dream is to complete his training, marry his master’s daughter, and set up a shop of his own. Unfortunately for him, when one of his greatest creations is used to play a cruel prank on a powerful gentleman, Tom is dismissed—and forced by fear of poverty and the need to clear his name to serve the very man whom he suspects set him up. Tom quickly realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew… though as it turns out, it’s not actually more than he desires. As Tom becomes less of a servant and more of a surrogate son, his ambitions change, and so do his pleasures, until it’s no longer easy for Tom to tell if he’s pulling the strings… or trapped in a bizarre web of someone else’s making. Matters become no clearer when Tom meets the mysterious professional libertines who seem to lurk at the center of all his troubles: a man willing to procure anything for anyone, so long as it gives them pleasure, and his obscure assistant, whose past has been irretrievably lost. Some might even say it was stolen… From British Fantasy and Wonderland Book Award nominee Molly Tanzer (Vermilion; A Pretty Mouth) comes a novel of despair and desire: The Pleasure Merchant; or, The Modern Pygmalion, equal parts psychological thriller and sensual parlor drama.


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“Forgive me, but I’m having some difficulty ascertaining exactly where magnetic north lies on your moral compass.” London, 177—: Apprentice wig-maker Tom Dawne’s dream is to complete his training, marry his master’s daughter, and set up a shop of his own. Unfortunately for him, when one of his greatest creations is used to play a cruel prank on a powerful gentleman, Tom “Forgive me, but I’m having some difficulty ascertaining exactly where magnetic north lies on your moral compass.” London, 177—: Apprentice wig-maker Tom Dawne’s dream is to complete his training, marry his master’s daughter, and set up a shop of his own. Unfortunately for him, when one of his greatest creations is used to play a cruel prank on a powerful gentleman, Tom is dismissed—and forced by fear of poverty and the need to clear his name to serve the very man whom he suspects set him up. Tom quickly realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew… though as it turns out, it’s not actually more than he desires. As Tom becomes less of a servant and more of a surrogate son, his ambitions change, and so do his pleasures, until it’s no longer easy for Tom to tell if he’s pulling the strings… or trapped in a bizarre web of someone else’s making. Matters become no clearer when Tom meets the mysterious professional libertines who seem to lurk at the center of all his troubles: a man willing to procure anything for anyone, so long as it gives them pleasure, and his obscure assistant, whose past has been irretrievably lost. Some might even say it was stolen… From British Fantasy and Wonderland Book Award nominee Molly Tanzer (Vermilion; A Pretty Mouth) comes a novel of despair and desire: The Pleasure Merchant; or, The Modern Pygmalion, equal parts psychological thriller and sensual parlor drama.

30 review for The Pleasure Merchant

  1. 5 out of 5

    Benoit Lelièvre

    I don't know exactly how to assess a numerical value to my enjoyment of this book because it was both witty and fast flowing and quite a headache. THE PLEASURE MERCHANT is definitely clever, but its amorphous point of view and its insanely accurate (yet probably satirized) knowledge of era etiquette exhausted the crap out of me to the point I lost the plot a couple times and had to work my way back into it. Don't get me wrong, THE PLEASURE MERCHANT was fun and challenging and you might very well I don't know exactly how to assess a numerical value to my enjoyment of this book because it was both witty and fast flowing and quite a headache. THE PLEASURE MERCHANT is definitely clever, but its amorphous point of view and its insanely accurate (yet probably satirized) knowledge of era etiquette exhausted the crap out of me to the point I lost the plot a couple times and had to work my way back into it. Don't get me wrong, THE PLEASURE MERCHANT was fun and challenging and you might very well enjoy it better than I did although I had a begrudging appreciation for it. It's a very accurate (sometimes to a fault) era novel with very modern ideas, which creates a quite bold ideological clash. It's just that Molly Tanzer will make you work for it :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    I've been waiting for a while to get my hands on this to read and dug it even more than I thought I was going to. I'm imagining an astral explanation for how the book came to be consisting of John Waters falling asleep with his head on a copy of "David Copperfield" so that the oil from his hair soaks into the pages and warps the text in new and interesting ways. The characters are bold and compelling, the story is mystery and suspense and salaciousness, and the whole thing is fresh and rewarding I've been waiting for a while to get my hands on this to read and dug it even more than I thought I was going to. I'm imagining an astral explanation for how the book came to be consisting of John Waters falling asleep with his head on a copy of "David Copperfield" so that the oil from his hair soaks into the pages and warps the text in new and interesting ways. The characters are bold and compelling, the story is mystery and suspense and salaciousness, and the whole thing is fresh and rewarding. I found myself wondering as I read about the fact that it is historically set but doesn't feel language-wise and such as a book of the time period. The more I thought about it though, I didn't want it to be. I don't think it would have worked that way, this being a twisted reflection version of the period. Making the language and such too period would have made the people and events throw me out of the narrative because they would have seemed so out of place with my image of that time. The way it is actually written works perfectly though, fitted completely to a kind of alternate past. Maybe I'm not making any sense, but I think you can get that I really enjoyed the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Embry

    Between this book and Vermilion, Molly Tanzer has leapt to the top of my insta-buy list. This story takes some time to get going. If you’ve read and loved Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities, I think you will absolutely adore Tanzer’s voice in this book. She’s the modern Brontë sister here. Completely different from her previous novel, Vermilion, which surprised and impressed me. This lady has some serious skill. Tom wasn’t a particularly likeable hero. He was foolish, vain, lustful, and sometimes d Between this book and Vermilion, Molly Tanzer has leapt to the top of my insta-buy list. This story takes some time to get going. If you’ve read and loved Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities, I think you will absolutely adore Tanzer’s voice in this book. She’s the modern Brontë sister here. Completely different from her previous novel, Vermilion, which surprised and impressed me. This lady has some serious skill. Tom wasn’t a particularly likeable hero. He was foolish, vain, lustful, and sometimes downright rude. He didn’t really make a huge growth in character, either. However, I adored him. His story as told by the narrator (I won’t spoil who that is) is kind of addicting, in much the same way that Jane Eyre’s story is. Recounting the events for a summary seems a bit boring, but it’s one of those “You have to be there” moments. Tom’s observations about the people around him, the way he draws conclusions, and his fearless attempts to better himself despite his situation, were worth turning the page. The rest of the cast drew equally strong reactions from me, but most of them are spoilers! As with Vermilion, Tanzer plays with gender expression like a maestro conducting a beautiful symphony. It’s never used disrespectfully, nor as a cheap plot device. Sex is a frequent guest in The Pleasure Merchant (shocker, with that title), so perhaps skip this one if you don’t wish to be privy to a teenage boy’s thoughts about burying his head between as many thighs as he can find. Above all, I was impressed with the mystery. Again, I can’t help but compare it to Jane Eyre or a Charles Dickens novel. The mystery builds slowly, against a backdrop of Victorian upper class manners and fringe science theories. (Hypnosis!) At times funny, at times creepy, and in the end, profoundly touching, this book is definitely worth picking up!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Hex

    Clever inverse of a moral tale, filled with good characters and ridiculous sex. EDIT: I actually came back and changed this to 5 stars later. I think my initial reluctance to do so was, actually, how i felt to book was going to come to an end too soon--I do wish it had been longer, but the ending was a good resolution. EDIT AGAIN: I have figured out why I liked this so much! A huge recurring theme throughout the book is the powerful importance of consent. Really good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Muntz

    I came into this book with high expectations, and I'm glad to say that it met them. It's a very tricky story that changes a few times as you work through, and that's what made things interesting to me. The first half almost reminded me of Dickens with its historical setting and focus on an orphan coming into wealth--but then halfway through everything shifts in the most interesting way, and the process of watching that happen is really great. Tanzer does an especially complex job of blurring the I came into this book with high expectations, and I'm glad to say that it met them. It's a very tricky story that changes a few times as you work through, and that's what made things interesting to me. The first half almost reminded me of Dickens with its historical setting and focus on an orphan coming into wealth--but then halfway through everything shifts in the most interesting way, and the process of watching that happen is really great. Tanzer does an especially complex job of blurring the lines between peripheral and central characters, though even now that I'm done the question of who this story is about is sort of complicated, and it also leaves out whole sequences of events that might have made it a much more comfortable, safe narrative of retribution. This is actually a very simple, human story despite how complex it seems in my imagination, very satisfying in places and unsatisfying in others... though there's something so judicious about what Tanzer decides to show us, and then how she interrupts it. I do think this book takes an unusually long time to come into itself, but once it gets there it's pretty incredible.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Laben

    Charming but not shallow, earnest but not cloying, clever but not sneering; The Pleasure Merchant hits the sweet spot (oh my!) with almost every page. We start with the classic scenario - a poor-but-honest boy brushes shoulders with the upper class and finds both opportunity and peril dropping into his lap. There's more of Defoe than Alger in this tale, though. Young Tom's virtues are tested in ways he never anticipated and we readers get a pointed look at age-old assumptions about gender, class Charming but not shallow, earnest but not cloying, clever but not sneering; The Pleasure Merchant hits the sweet spot (oh my!) with almost every page. We start with the classic scenario - a poor-but-honest boy brushes shoulders with the upper class and finds both opportunity and peril dropping into his lap. There's more of Defoe than Alger in this tale, though. Young Tom's virtues are tested in ways he never anticipated and we readers get a pointed look at age-old assumptions about gender, class, sexuality, and what it really means to be good. A few clever switches keep the narrative from growing too familiar, and a breezy pace makes this an ideal read for holiday travel or for slipping away from your family for a few hours of private time (best make sure it's actually private, though.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    So much goodness in this book! I highly recommend this one to everyone! It's perfect, in terms of time period, happenings, and everything. Don't let the length deter you...it's worth the time, I swear it. I went in expecting something completely different than what I got, but in a very, very, well, pleasurable way. Once you've set enough time aside to really dive in, do yourself a favor and do just that. You won't be sorry. I'm already planning on picking up a copy for my 18th century Brit-Lit p So much goodness in this book! I highly recommend this one to everyone! It's perfect, in terms of time period, happenings, and everything. Don't let the length deter you...it's worth the time, I swear it. I went in expecting something completely different than what I got, but in a very, very, well, pleasurable way. Once you've set enough time aside to really dive in, do yourself a favor and do just that. You won't be sorry. I'm already planning on picking up a copy for my 18th century Brit-Lit professor up a copy! I felt like I had been transported back to 177-, truthfully! The language, the clothes, everything was perfect, and I'm sure Tanzer must have done quite a lot of research on this one. Perfect in every way!

  8. 4 out of 5

    M Griffin

    Clever, naughty and fun. At the beginning of the book, I guessed wigmaker's apprentice Tom was an innocent done wrong, and that he would through resourcefulness and pluck climb his way back to the station he deserved... and that's not what happens. Molly Tanzer is creating her own territory, bringing a forward mindset (particularly about matters of sex and gender) to settings and characters that feel authentically old-fashioned. I might have wished the book spent more time with the "fun people" Clever, naughty and fun. At the beginning of the book, I guessed wigmaker's apprentice Tom was an innocent done wrong, and that he would through resourcefulness and pluck climb his way back to the station he deserved... and that's not what happens. Molly Tanzer is creating her own territory, bringing a forward mindset (particularly about matters of sex and gender) to settings and characters that feel authentically old-fashioned. I might have wished the book spent more time with the "fun people" than the "uptight people," but still I recommend The Pleasure Merchant, yet another very smart and enjoyable piece of work from Tanzer, who is certainly one of the more interesting and distinctive writers happening at the moment.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin Howe

    A raunchy, irreverent historical novel set in 18th century London about a shop boy turned social climber who ends up in over his head as heroics transform into villainy and the villains behave most heroically.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    A bawdy bit of historical fiction that is as charming as it is unique! I found myself completely captivated as the intrigue of Tom, the not entirely sympathetic wig maker's apprentice, was gradually divulged and with it, a wonderful exploration of some very important issues. A clever, humorous, titillating, and oh-so-relevant fable, I cannot recommend this book enough! A bawdy bit of historical fiction that is as charming as it is unique! I found myself completely captivated as the intrigue of Tom, the not entirely sympathetic wig maker's apprentice, was gradually divulged and with it, a wonderful exploration of some very important issues. A clever, humorous, titillating, and oh-so-relevant fable, I cannot recommend this book enough!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allyson Shaw

    A genre bending novel with Dickensian twists of fate, ye olde porn and a feminist heart beating at its centre, whatever centre there is here, and that's a good thing. Revel in the anachronistic joy ride. A genre bending novel with Dickensian twists of fate, ye olde porn and a feminist heart beating at its centre, whatever centre there is here, and that's a good thing. Revel in the anachronistic joy ride.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jemiah Jefferson

    Ultimately a pleasant diversion - but man, the lead-up is fascinating, gripping, and seductive. I can't wait to read more of Tanzer's work. Ultimately a pleasant diversion - but man, the lead-up is fascinating, gripping, and seductive. I can't wait to read more of Tanzer's work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julai

    I love Molly Tanzer. That is all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    HiRo

    A good 3.5 from me. I read this puppy in a couple days, because most of the time I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about how much better of a time I'd be having if I was reading it. It ticks a few great boxes for me: dismantling male entitlement, crossdressing, hilarious sex, and a good big ole pair of Gays (who get a happy ending, no less!?!). It had all the fixings and tropes of a parlor drama--amnesia, abducted noble-children, Weird Royal Society Science, plus a lot of meta-commentary on th A good 3.5 from me. I read this puppy in a couple days, because most of the time I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about how much better of a time I'd be having if I was reading it. It ticks a few great boxes for me: dismantling male entitlement, crossdressing, hilarious sex, and a good big ole pair of Gays (who get a happy ending, no less!?!). It had all the fixings and tropes of a parlor drama--amnesia, abducted noble-children, Weird Royal Society Science, plus a lot of meta-commentary on the genre. Then again, often I wondered what it was really about. Given that the first couple hundred pages are dedicated entirely to Tom, I had assumed this was his story, and it would follow his queerer and queerer descent into the libertine underworld (which would have been great). But then it switched gears and turned out to be the story of Alula Bewit. This isn't about Alula being the narrator--it's really about her story being 1000000% more compelling than Tom's, and it seems as if the author thinks so, as well. Nevertheless, we are given Tom's "cautionary tale" (or was it Hallux's cautionary tale? I don't know) for the majority of the novel, most of which seems unnecessary to the majority of the plot. I feel like this would've been a much more cohesive story if it had been the story of Tom slowly figuring out what happened to Alula, without her narration, or if we had just been given more of Alula's POV earlier on, perhaps just as the Callow imposter. So I loved the themes, I loved the places where it subverted expectations, however, I think that the subversions (such as moving from Tom's story to Alula's) could been done... a little more cohesively?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Keith CARTER

    An absolute triumph, this book is dark, decadent and an absolute pleasure to read. Imagine A Tale Of Two Cities and A bawdy Charles Dickens (I know its weird ) and your half way there to understanding this novel.Set in the London of the 18th century the novel focuses on an apprentice wig maker falsely accused of sabotaging a wealthy clients wig and is sacked. We then travel with him meeting so many characters who are beautifully drawn for us by Ms Tanzerand follow his unusual adventures. This bo An absolute triumph, this book is dark, decadent and an absolute pleasure to read. Imagine A Tale Of Two Cities and A bawdy Charles Dickens (I know its weird ) and your half way there to understanding this novel.Set in the London of the 18th century the novel focuses on an apprentice wig maker falsely accused of sabotaging a wealthy clients wig and is sacked. We then travel with him meeting so many characters who are beautifully drawn for us by Ms Tanzerand follow his unusual adventures. This book is so readable could sit down and start it all over again ( although I won't ). Please please buy this book and enjoy it for what it is, MARVELOUS. On order is Mollys A Pretty Mouth, and I cannot wait.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Fuller

    A skilled and discerning story of secrets and desires that lurk behind the walls of societal classes. This near-historical exposition follows the fetishes and foibles of those who yearn and maneuver for delight and satisfaction, be they students or masters. With dialogue both keen and delightful, the characters enchant and entice, while the whole experience is one of literary opulence and mirthful ribaldry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Quenti

    Story from multiple perspectives, one of which you come to loathe. If there was an over-arcing failure of all the characters, it is self-aggrandizement. Interesting to be sure, even if the mysteries were visible well in advance.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarak

    I was bored. The characters are all unsympathetic. The hypnosis plot driver is unbelievable. I was sort of hoping the main character would be killed so the story could end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Traummachine

    So far this was my least favorite book by Molly Tanzer, but I think that’s because this just wasn’t my style. My first Tanzer was A Pretty Mouth, her collection of humorous and sexually-charged Lovecraftian fiction, and I adored that. I then read Vermillion, which is a rich fantasy world set in the Old West, and although it started a little slow I really liked it and loved the world she created. I liked her writing here, but this was much slower, and I almost put it down. I’m glad I didn’t, but V So far this was my least favorite book by Molly Tanzer, but I think that’s because this just wasn’t my style. My first Tanzer was A Pretty Mouth, her collection of humorous and sexually-charged Lovecraftian fiction, and I adored that. I then read Vermillion, which is a rich fantasy world set in the Old West, and although it started a little slow I really liked it and loved the world she created. I liked her writing here, but this was much slower, and I almost put it down. I’m glad I didn’t, but Victorian drama just isn’t my thing. I do love the gay that she sprinkles over everything, big kudos there.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Gaines

    Readers of Molly Tanzer's previous novel, Vermilion, will be in for quite the change of pace in The Pleasure Merchant, although if we know anything of Tanzer, it's that she is sure to continue churning out the unexpected in her fiction (and that's a good thing). This is, at its heart, a melodrama, but with the sexual content cranked up (which, more often than not, adds greatly to the book's humor) and mixed with some very curious elements peeking out from around dark corners: Hypnosis? Possible Readers of Molly Tanzer's previous novel, Vermilion, will be in for quite the change of pace in The Pleasure Merchant, although if we know anything of Tanzer, it's that she is sure to continue churning out the unexpected in her fiction (and that's a good thing). This is, at its heart, a melodrama, but with the sexual content cranked up (which, more often than not, adds greatly to the book's humor) and mixed with some very curious elements peeking out from around dark corners: Hypnosis? Possible secret societies? Men with fantastic pseudo-spiritual-and-maybe-kinetic abilities not normally found among mortals? Yes, all these and more. The novel is, as mentioned above, quite funny. The dialogue is spotless and proper as is fitting to the 1700's setting, conjuring tones of Dickens or Downton Abbey, but then with masterful subtlety it will take a turn so absurd that one can't help but chuckle (or full-on laugh out loud). I mean, this book features the word “cockstand” more than once and the story begins in a wiggery, for goodness sakes, so you can rest assured that good and ridiculous times will be had. I must lastly point out the quality of Tanzer's vocabulary. More than once I had to highlight a word and use the pop-up dictionary feature on my Kindle to ascertain just what the hell was being referred to. Some terms were pertinent to the times, but others were just random-ass obscure words. I say this as a compliment, for I never view it as a bad thing to walk away from a novel with a few new words stored snugly in my grey matter. In all, this was a weird read, but a fun one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daveski

    I purchased this as part of a "weird horror" ebook bundle, so I was expecting something quite different - this novel is not particularly weird, nor is it horror in any way. It is quite good though, and probably something I normally wouldn't have been interested in enough to pick up, so I'm glad I was "tricked" into reading it. The novel takes place in 18th century England, and focuses mostly on Tom Dawne, an orphan and wig-maker's apprentice, whose life changes forever when he becomes entangled i I purchased this as part of a "weird horror" ebook bundle, so I was expecting something quite different - this novel is not particularly weird, nor is it horror in any way. It is quite good though, and probably something I normally wouldn't have been interested in enough to pick up, so I'm glad I was "tricked" into reading it. The novel takes place in 18th century England, and focuses mostly on Tom Dawne, an orphan and wig-maker's apprentice, whose life changes forever when he becomes entangled in a feud between two gentlemen. The plot goes in some unexpected and surprising directions, and the characters are very well-written and realistic. Probably the most interesting aspect of the novel is that many of the characters have attitudes towards sex, gender, agency, and consent that are considerably ahead of their time (perhaps anachronistically so?), and this becomes a source of conflict more than once in the book. I didn't think this was a perfect novel - the ending in particular felt oddly rushed (or maybe I just didn't want it to be over so soon) - but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It feels like a modernized version of a Dickens novel, and Tanzer uses that time period to explore some pretty modern ideas. Recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Blind_guardian

    I really enjoyed Vermillion, but sadly, TPM is most definitely *not* Vermillion. Absent is the weird, magic realism/historical urban fantasy feel of the other novel. Imposed is a rather annoying dupe protagonist, whose true thoughts we don't even get due to being written by someone whose obvious distaste for him seeps through the pages and drips out in thick, viscous purple prose. I mean that literally, as the true protagonist shows up halfway through the book, and we find out that Tom's inner t I really enjoyed Vermillion, but sadly, TPM is most definitely *not* Vermillion. Absent is the weird, magic realism/historical urban fantasy feel of the other novel. Imposed is a rather annoying dupe protagonist, whose true thoughts we don't even get due to being written by someone whose obvious distaste for him seeps through the pages and drips out in thick, viscous purple prose. I mean that literally, as the true protagonist shows up halfway through the book, and we find out that Tom's inner thoughts weren't his at all, but whatever ones our narrator felt like ascribing to him to explain his wandering, pointless tale. There are some good parts, some infuriating parts, and some parts that made me feel like the double layers of perspective were put in by an author who didn't trust herself to write the other gender accurately, or possibly one with an extremely negative view of men. I didn't get much of a man-hating feel from Vermillion, though, so who can say. All I can say for sure is that I didn't like it, it dragged quite a bit and that's why it took me almost a month to finish the cussed thing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kelly

    How lovely to find a book which is so spell-binding and enthralling, so charming and so decadent, so refreshingly difficult to pin a genre label on. In some ways it's a comedy of manners, as we observe apprentice wig-maker Tom climb the social ladder. He's mostly a likeable fellow, his failings are ones we'd doubtless all be prone to, but it's difficult to miss the fact that his strokes of good fortune are all accidents of chance, not accomplished by deeds of his own doing. This realisation is qu How lovely to find a book which is so spell-binding and enthralling, so charming and so decadent, so refreshingly difficult to pin a genre label on. In some ways it's a comedy of manners, as we observe apprentice wig-maker Tom climb the social ladder. He's mostly a likeable fellow, his failings are ones we'd doubtless all be prone to, but it's difficult to miss the fact that his strokes of good fortune are all accidents of chance, not accomplished by deeds of his own doing. This realisation is quite lost on Tom himself, however, for the one crucial time he DOES decide to accomplish something on his own ... well ... let's not spoil it, shall we? The narrator of the novel is not Tom, however, but another character, who remains a mystery for the first half of the story. All of the supporting cast are wonderfully rich and eccentric, as are the manifold vices and virtues on display. A wickedly humourous story, one I will definitely read again at a time when I need something to charm me, with an ending that I wasn't expecting AT ALL, shocking and satisfying at the same time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ry Herman

    The Pleasure Merchant is a … let’s call it a historical novel that initially seems to be about a wigmaker’s apprentice who rises in society. It takes much of its form from late 18th century melodrama, but subverts it to its own ends — the “hero” is not the hero, the “damsel” is not the prize. Ultimately it becomes a takedown of the literary (and real life) convention of men who think they deserve a woman who worships them as a reward, and an examination of women’s agency and how the conventional The Pleasure Merchant is a … let’s call it a historical novel that initially seems to be about a wigmaker’s apprentice who rises in society. It takes much of its form from late 18th century melodrama, but subverts it to its own ends — the “hero” is not the hero, the “damsel” is not the prize. Ultimately it becomes a takedown of the literary (and real life) convention of men who think they deserve a woman who worships them as a reward, and an examination of women’s agency and how the conventional narrative tries to erase it. It starts a bit slowly, but becomes a page-turner about a third of the way through. The plot is more complex and interesting than I’ve set out here, but there are a lot of reveals intended to be surprises so saying more would be spoilery.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liv Rainey-Smith

    The Pleasure Merchant is difficult for me to categorize so simply. It is a complex blend of light-hearted, dark, serious, erotic, and mysterious. Though beautifully set in 177- London, I was delighted to find certain contemporary issues at the heart of the tale and suspect that where you stand on those issues will determine whether you consider the ending happy or sad. If you're a fan of Tanzer's prior work, you should enjoy this novel. The Pleasure Merchant is difficult for me to categorize so simply. It is a complex blend of light-hearted, dark, serious, erotic, and mysterious. Though beautifully set in 177- London, I was delighted to find certain contemporary issues at the heart of the tale and suspect that where you stand on those issues will determine whether you consider the ending happy or sad. If you're a fan of Tanzer's prior work, you should enjoy this novel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    E.

    Tanzer continually impresses me with her work, because it doesn't seem to matter WHAT genre the girl is writing in, she gets it done. She has this way of a pulling a reader in and not letting them go. Everything, no matter how fantastic, is believable, because she crafts her worlds so perfectly. Wild West? No problem. 18th century London? ON IT. Tanzer continually impresses me with her work, because it doesn't seem to matter WHAT genre the girl is writing in, she gets it done. She has this way of a pulling a reader in and not letting them go. Everything, no matter how fantastic, is believable, because she crafts her worlds so perfectly. Wild West? No problem. 18th century London? ON IT.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Dancer

    I have no idea why this gets listed as horror (I even got it as part of a horror book bundle), so there was a little disappointment from it not being scary or creepy at all, which I think hurt my enjoyment. However, the writing is quite good and the story is interesting, if not a little too neatly wrapped up in the end. I will definitely be checking out more of her work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teodor

    Addictive. Social-climbing comedy of manners with a breezy approach to its 18th century milieu that never grates, and owes more to Fanny Hill than Henry Fielding.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This was a weird book and hard to describe. However, Tanzer's writing once more exceeded the genre and gave the reader more to think about than the prose. This was a weird book and hard to describe. However, Tanzer's writing once more exceeded the genre and gave the reader more to think about than the prose.

  30. 5 out of 5

    J.T. Glover

    A delightful historical romp, exploring the conflicts of love, ambition, lust, and class, and how they mold the human heart.

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