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A Factory of Cunningby Philippa Stockley
Synopses & Reviews
"A squelchingly well-researched period piece with sex, lust, overripeness and what one character calls the 'odour' of the scholar permeating every paragraph. It is also . . . a remarkable tour de force, jampacked with poetry, verbal fireworks, vitality and charm."--The Spectator [UK]
"The pages of this unscrupulous story are lined with lace, silk and muslin — all of it stitched together in a fabric of shimmering deceit."-- The Washington Post Book World
In this elaborate and finely woven novel set in 18th Century London, Mrs. Fox, a French noblewoman with a scandalous past, squares off against Earl Much, a debauched British aristocrat, in a battle of will and deceit that will claim many casualties along the way. Intent on improving her station in Georgian society, Mrs. Fox trades upon her considerable powers of wit and seduction in order to profit from the appetites of men. Her rival, however, is a crafty and resourceful man who has devoted his life to collecting priceless objects and ruining young women, and he will not be so easily beaten. Reminiscent of the world brought to life in Dangerous Liaisons, A Factory of Cunning is seductive, calculating, and thoroughly entertaining.
Philippa Stockley studied English at Oxford and period costume history at the Courtauld Institute. She produced her first illustrated novel at six and her first stage design at ten. A professional painter and designer, as well as an editor at the Evening Standard, she lives in London.
Philippa Stockley's heroine is a gloriously scheming and amoral French aristocrat, who goes by her nom de plume of Mrs Fox. Arriving in London with only a handful of gold and her loyal maidservant she sets about establishing herself with the high society. Mrs Fox is on the run from her past - and is being sought by a nameless would-be avenger - and her wish is to create a new, safe identity for herself as well as make lots of money, by whatever means possible.
Here are evil Earls, virginal lasses, bawdy clerics and a plot full complex twists and turns all told in an extraordinarily accurate 18th Century voice. The World of DANGEROUS LIAISONS is brilliantly bought to life in a swaggering, bawdy and very funny novel.
'I let my hand fall into my lap so woefully that Daneacre snatched it up again, creeping a little closer, his moleskin breeches denting my skirts. Now that he felt me to be unprotected I was fair game, as easy a prospect as a summer spinney stocked with pheasants to a seasoned poacher. Before I knew it he would be striding in knee deep.'
Set in late 18th-century England, Stockley's American debut transports readers to the world immortalized in "Dangerous Liaisons."
Set in late eighteenth-century England, Philippa Stockleys American debut gives us a wickedly delightful but deadly serious battle of the wills and the sexes. It begins with the arrival in London of the mysterious Mrs. Fox—on the run from a scandalous French past—who takes a new identity, determined to reinvent herself. She must pit her formidable skills for revenge against Earl Much, a British aristocrat with no less notorious a past and easily her match in sinfulness and intrigue. Between these two swirls a story featuring venal lords, wronged maidens, and reprobate clergymen, transporting readers from bawdy houses to country estates—places where the pleasures of the flesh are both high comedy and serious business.
A Factory of Cunning takes readers to the world immortalized in Dangerous Liaisons. And, like Michel Fabers The Crimson Petal and the White, the vividly rendered setting and characters give the thrill of a fresh discovery.
About the Author
Philippa Stockley is a deputy editor at the Evening Standard and also works as an artist and illustrator. She lives in London.
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