A unique adventure lurks in the pages of a Case of Curiosities: one mans life, dreams, aspirations, failures and adventures following a highly unusual vocation. Stimulated to curiosity after the purchase of a memory box, the author begins a very detailed journey through 18th century France, Paris in particular, following the adventures of Claude Page, an apprentice to the dark side of human nature.
Regardless of the era, Victorian, Puritanical, unconventional or morally restrictive, there is always a lucrative market for anything of sexual interest, particularly perversions of every variety. Young Claude, living in extreme poverty, is offered an opportunity to apprentice as a painter of ivory, a skill requiring considerable dexterity and artistry. His relative innocence is irrelevant, as long as Claude can wield a paintbrush. He is charged with depicting tiny scenes of sexual deviance on objects such as pocket watches, personal jewelry, wherever the surface allows the rendition of perverse portraits. The network of purveyors and collectors is well established and rife with connoisseurs of this unusual art. In spite of the opportunity, Claude soon becomes bored with his latest endeavors, until he stumbles upon a new interest: the intricate mechanics of movement. This new curiosity becomes his quest, eventually leading him to the streets and underbelly of Paris and a myriad of experiences with the many faces of humanity, as friend and foe.
Claude's dreams remain unfulfilled, and he is driven to discover the knowledge that will unlock the key of his mind's invention. Along the way, Claude has attracted an unusual and urbane assortment of friends, denizens of the streets, who recognize his incipient genius. Eventually, their support and innovative methods of procurement enable Claude to achieve his goal: a fully mechanized figure, an innovative engineering coup that finds its creator heaped with praise and recognition. From the beginning of this intricate novel to the end, a whole layer of Parisian society is uncovered, one that lives by wit alone, surviving the dangers on the streets of the demimonde. Against this fascinating canvas, Claude's life is meticulously wrought, year by year, as he struggles for self-definition and the satisfaction of pursuing his particular path.