Book Review: The Disorder of Longing

While shelving at the not-so-tiny library the other day, I realized that all of the older books did, in fact, look pretty much the same. You can’t judge them simply by looking at them. This is in stark contrast to a recent claim that I made to a patron that I’ve had rather a lot of success judging books by their covers. I went through a period last summer of reading books with high heels on them. That was pretty much the requirement at first, although I later revised it to books with high heels, and a colour combination of turquoise, lime green, bright pink, and occasional yellow. They turned out to all be a fairly high calibre of British “chick-lit”, and I got more out of them than I expected. Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic, though, made me retch. Makes no never mind; she made a fortune from it, I’m sure, so it doesn’t really matter what I think of it.

As a result, I am working towards a regular feature titled “By Its Cover”, in which (in future) I intend to preview books that I picked at random from the shelf, based only on their cover art and description. Then I have to read them. I’ll try to finish within a week. We’ll see how I do with that.

So. the first book I picked for this task is “The Disorder of Longing“.
Book cover
As you can see, it has a rich brown cover that looks like a photo of an old leather bound book, and a rich red/pink orchid in the middle of it. I wanted to caress it just for the cover. (I might mention here, though, that I frequently pat the books if I find that they haven’t circulated for several years, so my relationship with the objects that are books is not entirely normal.) I anticipated a sensual historical novel, probably focused on the desire for freedom in a woman in a constrained marriage. It turned out to be that and more. There was sex. There was travel. There was cross-dressing. There was an acknowledgement of ambivalence regarding gender roles, the play involved, and the difficulties of giving up the privileges of class, race and gender even when you know that they are problematic. I found myself wandering through the house and tripping over things while continuing to read well past my bedtime. I really, really wanted to know what came next, and it made me think.

All in all, a success. I’m not going to critically review things here, though. Just… did I like it? And was it what I expected? Yes. Yes. Read this book if you can get it. (Although there are a few pretty explicit triggery scenes, and I couldn’t recommend it for survivors of sexual abuse who are currently processing.)

Next book to follow after I get back to the library this afternoon!

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