One of the pleasures of the book is how the characters mirror each other in these very complex ways, so you have these delicate similarities and contrasts that are wonderfully subtle. It's the best kind of Realism, in my mind - one that manages to evoke all of human nature in this intricate tapestry of a specific cast of characters. People are constantly misreading or misunderstanding each other, and are mostly pretty miserable. It's de-lightful. You have to enjoy torrid romance and handwringing and descriptions like "Her wardrobe, too, was the object of long and earnest meditation, involving the effects and harmonies of the cold sheen of satin, the warmer, changeable shades of silk plush, the froth of tulle and gauze, and the sheerness of mousseline and lace,"* but like I said, the real joy of the book is in the psychological insights. Come for the tulle, stay for the personalities!
I will definitely be reading more Couperus. Incidentally, perhaps worth mentioning that this was my first time reading a book - that I paid for - on my iPad. I'd read some stuff on iPhone before, but all free downloads of old classics, and mostly only when I was working a slow shift at a bakery and not allowed to have a book in front of me, but able to get away with a seemingly innocuous phone. This was my first proper, sit-down-and-read-an-ebook experience. I have to say - it's pretty nice. The Kindle app includes a pretty handy highlighting and note-taking feature, which I begrudgingly admit might even be superior to my usual pencil underlining, particularly given that it's searchable. It turns out that amazon has several other Couperus books available in electronic form (especially key, because the Bilkent library has nothing but the copy of Eline Vere that I ordered two months ago which - of course - arrived today).
*Re-reading those lines, I realize that the pleasure I take in them is purely literary. They don't really conjure up an image so much as a kind of sensation, a vague impression of fabrics that I'm not even terribly familiar with, but have learned to love from novels like this one.