With the painful premise of a child-molesting uncle, whose misdeeds cast a large shadow on his victims, two cousins and a friend, The Wisdom of Perversity cannot be an easy story to read. The author captures the stunned reactions of the victims skillfully (although, in my mind, some of the factual details don’t seem to match their presumed ages exactly) — but the long and detailed descriptions of the abuse seem designed to appeal only to voyeurs and the very characters that are preying on the children. And why should the female victim be such a helpless character?
For me, the best part of the novel was the portrait of the Monster mother, as called by her son, one of the victims. A calculating, cold, controlling woman who could have utterly changed the fate of the children, but did not.
(I highly recommend the author’s previous novel, A Happy Marriage.)