The journalist Elizabeth Flock was in her early 20s when she moved to Mumbai. Though she was wary of overromanticizing India, she was immediately taken with what appeared to be an Indian attitude toward romance itself. “In Mumbai, people seemed to practice a showy, imaginative kind of love,” she writes in “The Heart Is a Shifting Sea.” She wondered if there was wisdom to this brand of passion: “When I arrived in Mumbai after my dad’s third divorce, the city seemed to hold some answers.”
Thomas Day was wealthy and educated and ran in influential circles. But there was one problem. The 18th-century British philosopher’s lack of interest in polite manners and fashion—and, more important, personal hygiene—made it difficult for him to attract a suitable mate.
Day liked to quote a line from a poem titled “Advice to the Ladies”: “Wit like wine intoxicates the brain/Too strong for feeble women to sustain.”
You can find my full review of Wendy Moore’s utterly creepy and completely factual biography of Day, How to Create the Perfect Wife over at The Daily Beast / Newsweek.