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The Sixteen Pleasures Paperback – May 1 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (May 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385314698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385314695
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 13.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #155,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Books that go into rich details typically don't interest me. "Get to the point already!" is something I might think if an author diddles around too long on description without advancing the plot or the character development.
Hellenga goes into a great detail about art and books and their restoration and somehow makes it all interesting. Perhaps he's tapped into the psyche of book lovers by addressing one of our fears: Imagine your most favorite, rare books that you've collected have been damaged and need to be restored or they'll be lost forever. In this case, the author is talking about the treasures of an entire country and not just one person.
But this is just the setting and background. Hellenga is also able to apply his same sensual descriptions to his characters and describes the thoughts and life of an American woman in Italy quite ably.
I've given several copies of "The Sixteen Pleasures" to my friends, particularly women. It's that good. Quite simply, it is sumptuous and sensual and a pleasure to read.
Far too many readers make a point of Hellenga being a man. Donna Tart wrote as a man in "The Secret History" and Jeffrey Eugenides wrote as a hermaphrodite in "Middlesex." In both cases the authors nailed their characters. Why so hard to believe that Hellenga, as a man, can't handle a female character? Besides, anyone with the illusion that Hellenga is all touchy feely only needs to read his book "The Fall of the Sparrow" in which he describes the life of a typical older professor who has frequent sex with one of his female students. If anything, he's versatile. If you love "Pleasures" you might not be as enthralled with "Sparrow" which, although a good read in my opinion, just has a different reading audience.
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Format: Paperback
This was written by a MAN??
Wow, the fact that a man wrote this book will blow your slippers off.
In The Sixteen Pleasures, Margot, a young American book conservator, goes to Florence in 1966to offer assistance after the devastating flood that destroyed so much priceless art. But she has a secondary agenda: she's seeking passion, adventure, excitement. She gets her wish in spades when a nun places into her hands a pornographic volume bound as a prayer book. The novel could have stayed on the surface of this story, remaining nothing more than an adventure/romance. Author Hellenga, however, digs deeper, and readers come away with a great feeling for the city of Florence, for the art of book preservation, for wall frescoes, and for European city life.
Splendid.
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Format: Paperback
This book had a wonderful start, and the main character was so well-defined. I loved her nostagic moments, and stories of her family and travels. I also liked the Italian lessons I got from the book. The premise of the book was quite fascinating--the "Mud Angels", and the book restoration and conservation. The convent scenes were also well-written, and I found myself very interested in the lives of these nuns. There were so many good things about the book, although there were a few sections of the book that I was unclear of what was going on, and what it had to do with the overall story... I loved her plan to help the convent's library, and escape the notice of the bishop.
On the back cover it states that she embarks on the "sixteen pleasures" mentioned in the book... with her "forbidden lover"... I thought this was too dramatic--Sandro was not forbidden, and she did not make a big deal about going through each of the pleasures as the back cover synopsis would have you think...
Overall a good book, although a little long in some places.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the mystery and poetry of this book. The combination of a nunnery, erotic engravings, and a 29 year old American woman in Florence... well what else can I say.
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By HeyJudy on April 9 2003
Format: Paperback
THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES epitomizes perfection in a novel. This is a small book that uses language which is quiet, and phrasing that is careful and deliberate. The novel tells a story which is distinctive, complex and compelling; the plot is unpredictable right up until the last page. Only after completing THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES does it become obvious how rich and full a novel it actually is.
THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES is set in Florence, definitely one of the most beautiful places on our planet. As the tale unfolds, the reader is instructed about the great flooding of the Arno in 1966, about cloistered religious orders, and about the preservation of rare books.
The "pleasures" of the title allude to a medieval ... manual that is the property of a religious order of nuns, a manual which has been damaged in the flood. The whole novel is reported in the first person by the narrator, a female book restorer from America. She is seduced by everything with which she comes in contact, including the life of a cloistered nun, the Tuscan region itself, and a male art restorer with whom she re-enacts some of the pleasures.
At all times, the language, under the control of author Robert Hellenga, is lyrical. THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES is as close to perfection as a novel gets.
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Format: Paperback
When I look back on the 300+ books I've read in the past ten years, Robert Hellega's "The Sixteen Pleasures" is near the top of my list of irresistable, poetic, life affirming books. Forget for a moment that a man can write so effectively from a woman's viewpoint, forget the lush Italian locales (and Hellenga's skill at painting them); this at bare bones is a well written coming-of-age story. Parts of it brought tears to my eyes; I hated going to bed and knowing I had to wait 24 hours to get back to it. That's what makes a good book, and this is one.
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