“One of the Best Books of the Year”

The Times, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday,,

“This is a highly original book. Part magic realism, part fable, part history and wholly engrossing.”

The Times, Books of the Year

“Exquisite and gripping.” 

Observer, Books of the Year

“A gorgeous treat of a novel, full of contradictions and subtleties. The complicated love-hate, race-stained relationship between Piet and Luvo and Ntsina is worth the cover price alone.”

The Times, Book of the Month

“A seemingly playful lie spirals into an explosion of greed, lust and ruthless ambition… Riveting.”

The Times, Book of the Year

“In elegant, sensuous prose … Mason imbues the forest with life, taking readers inside the psyche of each tree, animal, or insect… Mason’s previous novels have been long-listed for the IMPAC, Sunday Times Literary, and Lambda Literary awards. This profoundly tragic tale, in which colonialism battles tribal customs, and divisions of race and class sow distrust, should put him over the top.” 

Library Journal, Starred Review

“The novel, piercing in its perceptions of South African history and the people whose lives were affected by the 1913 Natives Land Act, and lavishly descriptive of a country rich in culture and wildly lovely, subtly captures the reader’s heart. Then breaks it. With well-drawn, compelling characterization; a frank and refreshing sensuality that permeates every aspect of life; and a range of complexity surprising for the book’s short length, the novel turns the question posed by the title into a philosophical theme. Luminously reminiscent of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) and recalling the disastrous culture clash of Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible (1998).” 

Booklist, Starred Review

“With echoes of Paul Theroux’s Mosquito Coast, Mason unspools a story rich in detail and populated with deeply flawed characters whose lives intersect in the once-pristine forest that inspires acts sacred and profane. Mason handles multiple story lines with the élan of a seasoned raconteur.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Mason continues to earn his reputation with exquisitely crafted sentences and a dizzying knack for storytelling.” 

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“This is one of the finest novels I have read for many years. It has at its centre truth and beautiful prose: it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Cape Times

“A perfect example of what makes Mason such a superb writer; his novels tell the rare and profound kind of truth that only stellar fiction can.”

Pretoria News

“Mason elegantly rotates between characters (and animals) with wisdom, pathos and real humour, gently but thoroughly exploring race and identity at a moment of huge political turmoil: a grand success, entirely on its own terms, and a deceptively profound achievement.”

Press Association

“A triumph of a novel.  It’s a book that you can’t help being totally caught up in…powerfully  evocative and wholly absorbing.  You can smell and taste the forest as you are led on an extraordinary journey, with the prose providing an almost filmic experience. The detail, the colour, the passion – and the story!  At a time of change and tumult in Europe the pure escapism of living through a novel about upheaval and drama in a different age is somehow reassuring.

Human passions, the lust for power and status, and the inevitable fallibilities of man and beast are drawn with exquisite detail.  It’s a book that works on many, many levels, and lingers with you gently for many, many days after you reach its extraordinary end…” 

Gill Penlington, Director of News, CNN

“Richard Mason’s is a distinctive voice in British fiction. His gripping prose and psychological insight has marked him out as one of the outstanding writers of his generation.  I wanted to re-reread it immediately.” 

Geordie Greig, Editor, Mail on Sunday

“A stunning tour de force that will leave you gripped, moved and inspired. A richly atmospheric historical novel that says much about the way we live now, Who Killed Piet Barol? is a book to read again and again: a compelling story written in luminous prose with vividly-realised characters. This is a book by a serious writer at the height of his powers.”

Alex Preston

“Magic… [Who Killed Piet Barol? ventures] far beyond the paths of the conventional novel … Be beguiled.”

William Boyd, Mail on Sunday



‘As if plucked from a patisserie display case, Mr. Mason’s novel is a gorgeous confection… Piet is the rare character – the rare being – whose unfailing charm and luck only make us cheer him on more.’ 

New York Times

History of a Pleasure Seeker ‘is the best new work of fiction to cross my desk in many moons. Mason … has written an unabashed romance, a classic…  There is an almost magical quality to it that had me thoroughly engaged from first page to last. … Mason has an appealingly playful quality that has never been more evident than it is here; he likes all of his characters and mostly gives them what they deserve; he conjures up early-20th-century Amsterdam and, more briefly, New York, with confidence and exceptional descriptive powers.’  

Washington Post

‘Mason writes in a beautifully turned, classical style that yields pleasing phrases and psychological complexity…  Genuinely moving.’ 

New York Times Book Review

‘It’s hard to imagine a better connoisseur of late 19th-century Europe’s gilded delights than Piet Barol, the bisexual hero at the heart of Richard Mason’s witty fourth novel, History of a Pleasure Seeker… Think Balzac, but lighter and sexier – an exquisitely laced corset of a novel with a sleek, modern zipper down the side.’

Marie Claire

‘Richard Mason is the rare novelist who can write a very sexy book that never quite turns prurient… This book about pleasure is a provocative joy.’

O, The Oprah Magazine. Find of the Month.

‘Highly recommended as an engaging portrait of an individual, a family, and time…  At once windswept historical romance and focused social commentary.’

Library Journal, starred review

‘Some of the month’s best fiction…  An alluring stranger liberates a wealthy Dutch family’s libido in Richard Mason’s Belle Époque Valentine, History of a Pleasure Seeker.’


‘Delicious… as polished as the Vermeulen-Sickerts’ silver, a literary guilty pleasure.’

Los Angeles Times

‘Mason displays a sharp eye and a wit to rival Oscar Wilde.’

Kirkus Reviews

‘This bildrungsroman is as smart as it is seductive . . . Readers will savor final scenes aboard the gilded ocean-liner Eugénie and welcome the undercurrent that perhaps Piet’s good fortune isn’t luck at all but a lesson that pleasure exists for those who seek it.’


‘Mason’s rendition of motivation, however self-serving, is one of the many delectable qualities in his well-wrought tale… The style and vocabulary are perfect for the novel’s setting… and Mason’s use of music sets exactly the right mood for what he wants to accomplish.  The well-drawn characters of servants, daughters and friends combine to make this a thoroughly enjoyable book.’

Shelf Awareness

‘Edith Wharton would be impressed…  Mason’s prose is lovely and rich.’

Entertainment Weekly

‘Just try to resist Richard Mason’s History of a Pleasure Seeker…  [Mason has] a keen eye for the irresistible detail… All the characters are richly drawn, but it’s Piet who owns the story: a young man wildly gifted in the art of seduction… He’s an adventurer who’s sure to always land on his graceful feet, or in the lap of just the right fellow scamp who happens to admire “clean-smelling men with beautiful lips.” That’s where the book leaves him — but only temporarily. History of a Pleasure Seeker gives us a goodbye wink with perhaps the most tantalizing trio of words in the English language: “To be continued.”‘

Seattle Times

‘Richard Mason evokes a lush pre-World War I Europe… [in this] elegantly written, sexy novel’ –

Jane Ciabattari, former head of the National Book Critics Circle, The Daily Beast

‘In the way of picaresque novels, the whole point is to entertain the reader. Mission accomplished.’ 

Newark Star-Ledger

‘Richard Mason presides over History of a Pleasure Seeker like a benign god, rescuing his confused but well-meaning characters when they seem doomed and affectionately watching from a distance as they scramble to make satisfying lives…. Give in to the charms of his prose [and] be bewitched.’ 

Columbus Dispatch

‘Mason is known for his exquisite prose and style. History of a Pleasure Seeker is a showcase for his nimble writing, but also extends his storytelling prowess.’ 

Pittsburgh Tribune

‘Richard Mason presides over History of a Pleasure Seeker like a benign god, rescuing his confused but well-meaning characters when they seem doomed and affectionately watching from a distance as they scramble to make satisfying lives…. Give in to the charms of his prose [and] be bewitched.’ 

Columbus Dispatch

‘Richard Mason presides over History of a Pleasure Seeker like a benign god, rescuing his confused but well-meaning characters when they seem doomed and affectionately watching from a distance as they scramble to make satisfying lives…. Give in to the charms of his prose [and] be bewitched.’ 

Columbus Dispatch

‘Richard Mason presides over History of a Pleasure Seeker like a benign god, rescuing his confused but well-meaning characters when they seem doomed and affectionately watching from a distance as they scramble to make satisfying lives…. Give in to the charms of his prose [and] be bewitched.’ 

Columbus Dispatch


‘A masterpiece. Like Henry James on Viagra. Not only gripping as hell, but brilliantly arranges that the imagined world of Maarten and Jacobina’s household sits entirely within Amsterdam of the belle époque. I thought Piet was wonderfully drawn – rogueish and yet wholly sympathetic.’

Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City

 ‘Set in Amsterdam during the Belle Epoque, History of a Pleasure Seeker follows Piet Barol, the poor but cultured young tutor to a wealthy Dutch family. Piet is determined to drink life to the fullest, and this ambition alters not only his own life, but also the lives of those around him. Skillfully and evocatively rendered, this novel feels like its own guilty pleasure, redolent of lazy afternoons and late night liaisons.’

Stesha Brandon, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

‘Think Downton Abbey, in Amsterdam, with lots of sex, and not always between the usual suspects. History of a Pleasure Seeker is pure pleasure itself, the kind of old-fashioned, perfectly paced, beautifully written, acutely observed novel you don’t want to end.’

Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary Arts, CA

‘Looking for something sexy and cultured for Valentine’s Day? Slip into an elegant world of social tension, ambition, and sensuality with Richard Mason’s latest novel. It’s a Dutch “Upstairs,Downstairs” with pulse-raising encounters and music that will make you swoon!’ 

Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA

‘A masterpiece. Like Henry James on Viagra. Not only gripping as hell, but brilliantly arranges that the imagined world of Maarten and Jacobina’s household sits entirely within Amsterdam of the belle époque. I thought Piet was wonderfully drawn – rogueish and yet wholly sympathetic.’

Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City

‘A hugely accomplished novel, the story of Piet Barol, a young, provincial Dutchman and the social and sexual adventure he embarks upon when he is employed as a tutor to one of the richest families in belle époque Amsterdam. Rich with period detail and characterised by pitch-perfect dialogue and a cast of carefully drawn characters, it explores themes of ambition, fidelity and class, and ratchets up the tension as our young hero walks a knife-edge between social/financial success and total ruin.’

Greg Eden, Head of Fiction,, UK

‘A sharply written story of love, money and erotic intrigue pulsing behind the staid canal fronts of nineteenth century Amsterdam. Mason’s hero is amoral but irresistible.  I was gripped till the very last page.  Thank God there’s a sequel.’ 

Daisy Goodwin


‘One of the best three books of the year.’


‘Piet Barol is ‘a pure pulse of young manhood; not an everyman, but perhaps the fantasy everyman that every man would like to be.’ 

Times Literary Supplement

‘A hugely accomplished novel – the story of Piet Barol, a young, provincial Dutchman and the social and sexual adventures he embarks upon in belle époque Amsterdam.’  

The Independent Best Summer Reads

 ‘A ripping literary romp about the adventures of a dashing, athletic and sexually ambiguous young man.’ 

The Evening Standard

 ‘Enthralling and perfectly paced.’

The Observer

‘A saucy, hugely entertaining romp of a young man making his fortune in 1907 Amsterdam.’

The Sunday Times

‘Mason tells his story with humour, charm, fine attention to detail and a healthy dose of eroticism.’ 

The Independent on Sunday

‘Readers of a sensitive disposition beware.’ 

The Lady

‘Piet Barol is a dashing young man of the Belle Époque who seduces his way into a life of decadence in this fast-paced historical page-turner.’ 

Easy Living, Summer Choice

‘A masterpiece. Like Henry James on Viagra. Not only gripping as hell, but brilliantly arranges that the imagined world of Maarten and Jacobina’s household sits entirely within Amsterdam of the belle époque. I thought Piet was wonderfully drawn – rogueish and yet wholly sympathetic.’

Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City

‘A masterpiece. Like Henry James on Viagra. Not only gripping as hell, but brilliantly arranges that the imagined world of Maarten and Jacobina’s household sits entirely within Amsterdam of the belle époque. I thought Piet was wonderfully drawn – rogueish and yet wholly sympathetic.’

Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City

The Lighted Rooms (called Natural Elements in the USA)


‘Two British writers make the list. Richard Mason is a gifted young novelist whose third novel, Natural Elements, is something of a tour de force, in which he not merely tells the moving story of a woman sliding into Alzheimer’s but does so against the improbable but convincing background of the Boer War and sophisticated commodities trading.’

The Washington Post

‘An immensely readable magnum opus.’ 

The New Yorker

‘Mason has clearly been blessed with unusual talent and a searching intelligence…. Natural Elements [called The Lighted Rooms in other parts of the world] is a mature, inventive, ambitious novel…. Mason brings a clear, inviting prose style that resists at every turn the temptation to be showy. To be as young as he is and already have three novels under his belt is impressive enough, but to have written novels as good as these is far more so.’

The Washington Post

‘Beautifully rendered.’

New York Times Book Review

‘It takes real talent to create such a mixed bag of characters and paint them into so many different, but clear, pictures…. Most impressive.’

The Washington Times


‘Immensely readable, with its bossy hedge fund girl and dreamy old pianist.  The Lighted Rooms ranges across then and now, finance and science, stiff-necked imperialism and burning homesteads, the Rainbow Nation and Parisian lingerie, all bound into a compelling story.’

Barbara Trapido

‘This subtle, engrossing novel kept me spellbound for three days…  Beautifully written and ambitious too.’

Nicholas Coleridge

‘A beautifully crafted novel, with two superbly drawn women at its heart.’


‘ …the subtle style that marked his debut, with hints and suggestions nestling amidst the leisurely prose, is still evident in The Lighted Rooms… a rewarding read.’

The New Yorker

‘An immensely readable magnum opus.’ 

Sunday Telegraph

‘Richard Mason weaves an engrossing tale of memory, ambition and shifting familial duties.’

Daily Mail

‘Slipping between a Boer War concentration camp and present-day London, the book is a thoughtful and at times hilarious challenge to assumptions about ageing, family and history, and draws an angry parallel between US action in Iraq and British action in the Transvaal.’


‘Mason’s wit and original eye and his unusual take on dementia ensures an enjoyable read.’


‘Mason’s characters are undeniably colourful – dazzlingly so… Mason’s boldness is to be admired – he is clearly a young writer who is not afraid to challenge himself.’

The Scotsman

‘A sweeping historical drama, mixing the political with the personal, as one family looks back at a very troubled past.’


‘Shocking, compassionate and exquisitely written.’

Woman & Home

‘An immensely readable magnum opus.’ 

The New Yorker

‘Moving and uplifting, by a writer at the height of his powers.’

Sainsbury’s Magazine, Book of the Month

‘A brilliant portrait of old age.’


‘An immensely readable magnum opus.’ 

The New Yorker

‘Mesmerising… A beautifully crafted exploration of love, duty and friendship.’


‘An epic family saga about memory loss and the tricks age plays on the mind.’

Scotland on Sunday


‘An incredibly mature novel… Richard Mason is a hugely talented writer. When you read his book, you automatically think of authors like Thomas Mann and John Updike. This is a classic novel, written by a future literary master.’

Rob Schouten, Trouw

‘Mason knows how to keep the reader intrigued till the very end and he is extremely skilled at the depiction of human emotions and the tortured mind of an older, disturbed woman.’

Boek Magazine

The Lighted Rooms often reminds the reader of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Mason, like Franzen, is an astute observer of buried tensions and the latent aggression which can also arise in loving families.’

Financieele Dagblad

‘In this sizeable novel, Richard Mason beautifully and skilfully describes a family history which covers the entire twentieth century.’


‘A truly gifted novelist.’

Het Parool


‘It is fascinating how Mason shows the two different worlds: Joan, in her own estranged universe, and Eloise in the world of finance… Mason describes with great subtlety and gentleness the slow emotional approach of mother and daughter. An incredible book.’

Neue Presse

‘An immensely readable magnum opus.’ 

The New Yorker

‘Richard Mason’s The Lighted Rooms is a highly snsitive and original novel. Gently and empathetically, the South African born Richard Mason deals with topics such as ageing, dementia, and parent-child relationships… The Lighted Rooms transports the reader worlds both far away and less far away. It opens new perspectives. And it’s a great pleasure to read.’ 

Siegener Zeitung

‘Mason cleverly changes the perspectives of the narration. The world of both mother and daughter appears logical in itself, though they are inconsistent with the other. Mason creates brilliant images of Joan’s mental retreat – like the floating piano pedals which accompany the former pianist into her parallel universe.’

Die Rheinpfalz


‘Skilled at creating evocative atmospheres in the most elegant prose, the 30-year-old Richard Mason is thought to be one of our greatest living authors.’

La Repubblica

The Lighted Rooms is striking indeed because of its essential consistency, gliding forward without any imperfection in either its plot or its style. All characters are drawn with a narrative wisdom surely unknown to most authors in their thirties: Mason’s accuracy and levity … make one even think about Henry James. Less writer than author this time, with his third novel Mason marks an important point in the course of his narrative production. His work supports our belief that any author – even if young and talent-kissed and objectively favoured by circumstances – cannot spend less than three or four years in writing a good novel. Richard Mason showed calm and patience enough to manage his own skills by putting somewhat Olympic intervals between his three novels. Doing so, he demonstrates to the reader a steady and, it seems, unrestrainable growth. Keep ready for 2012, then: the next one will be perfect.’

Il Sottoscritto

‘A fascinating saga where the destinies of two households are skilfully woven together, across the Nineteenth and the Twentieth centuries, between Africa and London…  The main characters are so intensely realised that sometimes they seem to step off the page.’


‘Mason’s style recalls McGrath and McEwan because of his talent for deep analysis of human feelings… Joan is suffering from senile dementia; yet Mason describes this pathology stressing its visionary and imaginative side.’


‘The essence of this novel lies in Mason’s talent in voicing, with both realism and sensitivity, the perturbations Joan has to face while tackling the challenges of old age with serene courage…  [Mason offers] a moving insight into the frequent failures of understanding between mothers and daughters.’

L’Unione Sarda

 ‘[Richard Mason] last novel, in its five hundred pages, is very rich in themes, each one possibly worthy of a novel itself: the Anglo-Boer War; old age and the loss of memory and consciousness; the parent-child relationship and sibling feelings; the myth of money and success in modern society, and even more.’


 ‘[Richard Mason] keeps on smiling and writing fine literature.’

Il Secolo XIX

‘Richard Mason, the 30 year old golden boy of British literature, uses all his skills to stress the generation gap between mother and daughter…  En passant, Mason explains that Eloise [the daughter] was not always so stiff… for her first meeting with her future saviour, as an au pair girl in Paris, she was horrified by the idea of the Marks & Spencer white knickers she used to wear and decided to steal her landlady’s beautiful silk underwear. Underwear, especially stolen, is always meaningful in a novel. The reader then understands that the ephemeral apparition of this silk underwear has quite unexpectedly to do with the happy ending.’


 ‘In a modern setting, deepened by a strong memory of past times, this novel shows us a lady whose life is ending. Her daughter takes her to South Africa where she was born: there she will look for her roots, discovering her family’s tormented past, before entering a London hospice.’

Il Messaggero Veneto

 ‘The Lighted Rooms follows The Drowning People’s intense emotion, renewing a kind of passionate alchemy, both fascinating and moving… [Mason] easily moves through history and imagination.’

L’Unione Sarda

 ‘In his latest novel [Mason] … returns to the places where the bloody Anglo-Boer War took place in the late Nineteenth Century. This often forgotten conflict has many points of comparison with the Iraqi War: for they both arose from the fight for basic commodities (gold then, oil now), and involved the world’s major superpower.’

Il Sole 24 Ore

‘A novel structured as a building of many storeys, with each room opening on a different historical age as well as on the hearts of the different characters. In his new work [Mason] talks about responsibility passing from parents to children…  The book is a challenge: it looks at old age and dementia in a positive light. Furthermore, it shows that the loss of clarity can even be fun.’

La Nuova Sardegna

‘Mason overturns two of the Victorian edifice’s architraves: the national spirit and the sacred conception of domestic values.  This he does by linking a nearly-forgotten war to a mother/daughter relationship full of misunderstandings, of unspoken words and of a sense of guilt flowing into a sort of affective autism.’


‘The nearly five hundred pages of [Mason’s] book are a perfectly oiled mechanism.’

La Nuova Sardegna

 ‘Past times are [Mason’s] literary mainspring but, as the novel goes on, hints at current tragedies subtly make themselves felt.’ 

Famiglia Cristiana

‘With this beautiful portrait of a woman, that is an historical novel at the same time, Mason tells the tale of old age and its frailty, by means of a truthfulness and a tenderness both troubling and comforting to the reader. We all should thank him.’




‘Only two books in my life have made me cry…  [One of them] is Us, Richard Mason’s devastatingly tragic, funny and utterly gripping novel.  Fantastic stuff and without doubt my book of the year.’ 

Independent on Sunday, Books of the Year

‘Mason’s deftly plotted take on the Oxbridge novel begins ten years on with its three main characters – embittered Julian, alcoholic artist Jake and emotionally fragile Adrienne – looking back on their respective relationships with wayward Maggie, Julian’s sister…  Guilt, jealousy and betrayal are themes ingeniously explored here, with each protagonist offering his or her version of events leading up to the day of Maggie’s fatal accident, and tension is sustained to nerve-stretching effect in the closing pages.  It’s wonderfully done.’ 

The Times

‘Richard Mason has created a classic with a twist with this startling novel.  It deserves to win all the prizes.’ 

Geordie Greig

‘You’ll find it hard not to be thoroughly moved by this utterly gripping account of damaged souls.’

Independent on Sunday, Summer Fiction Special

The Big Chill meets Evelyn Waugh.’ 

The Arts Show, BBC Radio Scotland

‘Mason’s storytelling is slyly compulsive: Us is a genuine page-turner, anchored in vivid characterisation but driven forward with the skill of the best thriller-writers.’


‘Mason’s guilty pleasure of a second novel … is tremendous fun and never less than beautifully written.’


‘In his latest [novel], Mason capitalises on his early promise with this compelling tale about three friends who have drifted apart since their university days, but remain connected by the shocking death of the woman who was, variously, sister, lover and best friend to each of them.  It looks set to confirm Mason’s reputation as a powerful storyteller with a bright future.’ 

Red Magazine

‘Mason deftly draws us into [his characters’] eventful past and empty present, and his method of intercutting narrators and time frames … keeps his reader panting for the next choppy instalment.’ 



‘Put three privileged kids and one poor one in the same exclusive university.  Have them fall in love, quarrel and discover that the world is full of injustice.  Add an unwelcome guest: death.  Then observe their reactions, explain how the survivors have changed.  If you’re lucky, you’ve got a psycho-sociological essay.  If you are a writer, and a mature and insightful writer like Mason, you have Us.’ 

Vanity Fair 

The Drowning People is midway between Madame Bovary and The Catcher in the Rye, disillusioned and ferocious.  In his new novel, Us, Mason confirms all his capacity for introspection…  He directs a chorus of imploding voices, describing a sort of adolescent rage that unleashes unpredictable frustrations.  He has the skill to interweave life and passion, creating a cruel game with violent repercussions, while his lightness of touch avoids all the clichés of despair.’ 

Il Messagero

‘Mason has succeeded in writing an excellent, three dimensional novel.’ 


‘Poetic and cruel, a symphonic novel of interweaving voices.’  


Us is more than a confirmation of Mason’s talent.’ 

Marie Claire

‘Us is a merciless portrait of contemporary Great Britain, in which Mason continues the enquiry into chaotic postmodernity that he began with The Drowning People.  Mason’s rage is reminiscent of John Osborne’s…. This young writer ranks beside Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Jonathan Coe, but is no simple follower.  He mixes the personal and the political with intelligence and his second book eliminates any possible doubt of his artistic worth after the runaway success of his first novel.  It confirms his place among the small group of the most interesting new British novelists.’ 

Il Piccolo 

‘Richard Mason is, without doubt, the most insightful investigator of the psychology of the young among the new generation of British writers…  His detailed characterisation evokes Balzac and Maupassant.’ 

Il Tempo 

‘Richard Mason is closer to the early work of the American writers Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney: he reveals our helplessness with the gift of a social painter.  Us is a novel of structural virtuosity.’


‘A confirmation of a great and mature talent.’ 

La Nazione

‘A cruel and winning story, with a Pirandello-like structure: the reader cannot know objectively what happened, but can infer it from the often diverging versions of the protagonists.’

Il Messagero

‘Richard Mason has the passion of the adolescent but all the awareness of an experienced writer.’

Sebastiano Pezzani, Il Giornale


‘Richard Mason’s second novel is an explosive mixture of cocky irony and elegy which perfectly explains the confusion of feelings one finds at that harsh, vulnerable age when one begins to make one’s way in the world….  The author excels at describing those times in one’s life when one suffers as one breaths, and where joy is tinged with pain.  We become attached to his characters, to their freshness and fragility.  In their company, one slides down the dangerous slope to the many intoxications of adolescence.’ 

Le Figaro, Pick of the Day

‘Richard Mason is a phenomenon whose sense of narrative demands our respect’

Le Figaro Magazine

‘Richard Mason makes the stylistic decision to move between his protagonists’ voices, giving us now one, now another, showing the names of the characters at the top of each chapter to familiarize us with the style and tone of each.  Soon, these names become unnecessary, and the reading is not interrupted by them – because we come to know each of his subjects.  This is one of the novel’s great strengths: the ability to bring us deeply into each person’s tragedy, into the hidden places of their mind…  A beautiful book which suggests many subjects for reflection.’

La Semaine

‘Richard Mason is a young writer with a glowing future.’


‘Richard Mason, one of the great hopes of Anglo-Saxon literature, offers us a deeply moving novel which has achieved worldwide success… A poignant, serious book of great beauty’

Agence France Presse

The Drowning People


‘An Oxonian Literary Sensation… Mason’s twist on his generation’s cynicism is that his narrator has, in fact, seen it all.’

The New York Times Book Review

‘An amazing novel….  How [Mason] could have so much wisdom and insight is baffling….  His elders will be jealous of his storytelling ability, not to mention his beautiful command of the language.  His descriptions are lyrical and his take on British high society uncanny….  A literary gem.’

The San Francisco Examiner

‘Early fame earned ….  A story of the torments of youth, the blush and bravado of first love and the anchoring bonds of friendship….  Mason’s take on the world and the human condition is often more sagacious than many people twice his age, and the scope of his writing talent is broader than some writers with many books in their cannons.’

The Denver Post

‘Page-turner … A sweeping, romantic thriller set in the rarefied world of the English upper class….  Glamorous, ghostly, and decadent in the tradition of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, the novel is quite an achievement – at any age.’

Plum Sykes, in Vogue

‘The much-hyped literary thriller/romance actually is hype-worthy.’ 


‘The Drowning People is this summer’s A Secret History, and author Richard Mason is the publishing world’s latest Donna Tartt….  Anyone who doesn’t lap up [this book] in a few breathless sittings doesn’t know how to have fun on vacation’


‘What is most stunning of all is his intelligent grasp of the tangled emotions of a man in his seventies…. Mason’s perception of the interior life … his comprehension of the forces that motivate betrayal and revenge, and his command of language result in a story that is, in the literal sense of the word, unforgettable.’

The San Diego Union-Tribune 


‘The current king of the hot young writers … is Richard Mason.’ 

The Times

‘One of the most talked about first novels of 1999.  If you want to be au courant with modern fiction, you will need to read it… Mason is capable of thrilling concision: densely packed sentences pregnant with ideas; vivid descriptions; terse, epigrammatic dialogue.’ 

Sunday Telegraph

‘Assured, well-paced and ambitious … the writing is a delight.  An exceptional achievement.’ 

The Guardian

‘Redolent of early Evelyn Waugh…. Mason already displays narrative drive, verbal skill and technical mastery.’ 

The Express

‘Compelling – nodding to Fitzgerald in both its Gatsby-esque world of beautiful people smoking elegantly and luminous women named Ella.’ 


‘Gripping, psychological drama.’ 

Elle Magazine

‘I became so entranced by this mystery that I actually considered being late to collect the kids from school rather than put it down….  Unrequited love, guilt and rivalry among the English upper classes abound, with seductive surprises and an epic twist at the end.  But it is the 19th-century narrative style, complete with marvellous character descriptions, that makes this novel so winsome.  Utter indulgence.’ 

Kate Figes in Woman’s Journal

‘A very impressive first novel … the story immediately hooks you until the end… The pacing and control of the plot, too, have the confidence of an experienced hand.  His themes and upright retrospective tone echo Daphne du Maurier and John Fowles … Exceptional.’ 

The Times

‘As a study of the awesome power of first love, it dazzles….  Mason, awesomely for one so young, writes with a style both spare and powerful.’ 

Birmingham Post

‘Very enjoyable and nearly irresistible.…   A wallow in a world of High Romance, with more than a touch of Gothic extravagance … Many readers will adore it.  It is the kind of novel which, as Stella Gibbons’s heroine Flora Poste said of the Victorian novels in which she delighted, you can “read in a hot bath while eating apples” … A remarkable achievement.’ 

The Scotsman

‘Richard Mason [is] the Boy Wonder of fiction.’

Birmingham Post

‘Of young British voices, Richard Mason is flavour of the year.’ 

The Financial Times

‘A remarkable book, addressing dark themes of lost love, guilt and depression.’ 

Yorkshire Evening News

‘Engrossing and beautifully written.’

Cambridge Evening News 


‘The Drowning People is a great read, a suspense-filled blockbuster with brains, a slice of French silk pie sprinkled with bits of broken glass….  It’s a brilliantly written book, a profound statement on love and revenge and what some people will do to get it, and it sucks you into its evil, murky plot like a little bird into an airplane engine.’ 

Miriam Toews in The Globe and Mail

‘It seems almost unfair that Mason’s work is actually very good … a passionate, engrossing story.’ 

Macleans (Summer Reading Recommendations)

‘Drowning in talent….  All-round super-Brit Richard Mason shows uncommon nerve by infusing a confessional narrative with gothic creepiness, touches of the whodunit formula and yes, a beguiling probe of disturbed psychology….  Mason’s limpid prose, his sharp eye for the frenzied courtship rituals of London society and his fascination with the clash of British and American attitudes, bring to mind the settings favoured by Henry James and Edith Wharton….  Mason does a marvellous job capturing the decay and vitality of post-communist Prague….  Audacious from beginning to end.  His impersonation of a 70-year-old narrator, full of envy and resentment for his younger, romantic self, is a winning one.  The prose runs clear, carrying the reader along with a terrific buoyancy.’ 

Toronto Star

‘An amazing debut novel.’

The Province 


‘Must read… Mason keeps the reader in suspense, daring you to turn the pages faster and faster as he unpeels the layers of the story.  Just when you think you know what’s going on, he whips the rug away from under your feet, and you’re left with your mouth open, gawping at the things these characters can do.’ 


‘If his debut novel … is an example of what Mason can achieve at his first go, no one quite has the nerve to imagine what may come next.’ 

Elle Magazine

‘Richard Mason is a compelling writer.  The characters he created are so mature, their thoughts gleaned from a lifetime of travelling life’s road that at times I just had to stop reading and marvel at how an 18-year-old could have such insight, such presence.  The story is brilliant, with a touch of madness, wickedness, fate, consuming love and jealousy.  Richard Mason must be the novelist of the next century.’ 

Sunshine Coast Sunday

Mason ‘shows extraordinary talent; the subtleties and depth of plot of this work are deliciously palatable.  All the many streams of events lead unerringly to a satisfying and well-hidden climax.’  

The Examiner

‘It would be very easy to write Mason off.  Very easy to deride The Drowning People simply because he’s 20, rich and about to become richer.  But it cannot be ignored – Mason is a very talented young man and The Drowning People is the work of someone wise beyond his years….  Mason is clearly a major writing discovery.’ 

Sunday Mail

‘This tale of obsessive love and murder is a real crowd-pleaser: complex without being impenetrable, pacy and with at least some ambitions to be more than a thriller. [Told] in remarkably assured prose.’

Inside Melbourne


‘I loved it.’ 

The Star

‘One cannot help but be amazed while reading this exceptional story that this is the writer’s first novel….  It is beautifully told and if this is what he comes up with the first time, hang around.  A remarkable book.’ 

Pretoria News

‘Having read the hype before the book, I was convinced that one who had experienced so little of life couldn’t possibly pull if off.  That he has, and so utterly brilliantly, is nothing short of remarkable….  He’ll no doubt have attained cult status by the ripe old age of 30.’ 

The Mercury

‘Thrilling tangle of emotional motive and error…. [Mason] segues us from past to present to past. So skilfully does he achieve this that you marvel at his maturity…. There are clever cliffhangers teasing us on, our nerve ends aflame. There is delicious menace, there are tragedies almost too terrible to bear, but it is the final intertwine that will truly set your heart aleaping.’

The Cape Times


Mason shows ‘Astonishing psychological maturity and linguistic sophistication.’

Die Welt

‘You’ll rush through it.’ 

Marie Claire

‘An unusually thrilling love story, and the hymns of praise – somewhere between Daphne du Maurier and Donna Tartt – aren’t exaggerated.’ 


‘One of the most artful and intelligent of all psychological thrillers.’ 

Die Aktuelle

‘Subtly erotic and thrilling to the last page.’ 

Neue Revue

‘A fateful, finely-woven love story in the best English narrative tradition.’


‘A fateful and thrilling love story.  The finely-woven and psychologically deft story is in the best traditions of English storytelling.’ 

Bremer Anzeiger

‘Exciting and brilliantly written.’ 

Badische Zeitung

‘Forceful and brilliantly described … a shocking family tragedy.’

Live Journal


‘A dream debut from Richard Mason.’ 

Man Magazine

‘Mason deftly sifts present and past, blending them beautifully… a magnificent debut.’ 

Limburgs Dagblad

‘An amazing, wonderful, literary debut with a classical writing style and perfectly conceived characters.’ 

General Press Association

‘A sensational debut … Mason makes a shattering impression with his first literary novel.’ 

Brabants Dagblad

‘With subtle stealth Mason keeps the tension up…’

De Volkskrant