The Disorder of Longing

Natasha Bauman, Author
Natasha Bauman, Author . Putnam $24.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-399-15495-9
Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-101-01280-2
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 432 pages - 978-1-101-01334-2
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-01496-7
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In Bauman's overwrought debut, 1890s Bostonian Ada Pryce longs to escape the restrictions of a sexually frustrating, socially constricting marriage with tyrannical Edward, a gentleman hobbyist. Though he is an advocate of “Karezza” (spiritual purity through sexual deprivation), Edward can't suppress Ada's physical desire, first unleashed in a premarital affair with her college Shakespeare professor, nor can he rein in her intellectual tendencies, encouraged by friends but frowned upon by Ada's Boston society matron mother. When Edward brings home a trio of orchid hunters—William Parrish, Walter Kebble and Jao da Cunha—opportunity for an Amazonian adventure knocks at Ada's door. Bauman's spirited heroine, range of settings and intimate knowledge of turn-of-the-century society impress, but they get smothered in descriptions of sexual dissatisfaction and rhapsodies on the erotic beauty of exotic plants. The overripe language may be meant to dramatize Ada's unrequited passions, but the humidity makes for more squish than swoon. (June)

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