A Factory of Cunning
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Set in late eighteenth-century England, Philippa Stockley''s 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, she takes on a new identity, determined to rehabilitate herself. To do so 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 Faber''s The Crimson Petal and the White, the vividly rendered setting and characters give the thrill of a fresh discovery.
The reader is transported to a world of bawdy houses, debauchery, ruination of willful maidens and intrigue. The earl proves to be a equal match to the cunning sinfulness of Mrs. Fox.
This is written in an epistolary mode, that of letters and diary entries. It was very difficult to get into the story to start with but finally near the middle of the story I started to 'get' it.
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