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A Factory Of Cunning Paperback – 6 Apr 2006

5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119106
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,337,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A very entertaining romp. (GUARDIAN WEEKLY)

She writes with vivid, fervent imagination, provoking shivers in the reader. (EVENING STANDARD)

Spitefully funny, sordid and chilling, A FACTORY OF CUNNING deserves to become a cult classic. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Stockley, a painter and historian of costume, has a fantastic eye for detail and a very witty way with words... which make her FACTORY OF CUNNING an irresistable gegaw. (GUARDIAN)

Book Description

*A major novel with a plot full complex twists and turns, all told in an extraordinarily accurate 18th Century voice, by an extremely talented writer.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 April 2005
Format: Hardcover
The epistolary novel is always a risky endeavor, the brisk pacing, the intimacy of character, and the complexity of plot must always be exactly right. In A Factory of Cunning, Philippa Stockley's, sensational new novel, she achieves all this and much, much more. This is a marvelously intriguing, deliciously wicked, and titillatingly voyeuristic outing that transports the reader to a vividly drawn London of 1784. It's a tumultuous time where the war of the sexes is in fall force, where mischievousness and deceit reign, and where houses of ill repute are springing up all over the City.
Mrs. Fox, who has just arrived in England after having fled France, is the chief protagonist in this bawdy and deceptive tale, for she has recently been forced into exile after notoriously becoming a fallen woman in her home country. Armed with her trusted servant Victoire, and a series of introductory letters from Dr. Hubert van Essel, physician benefactor in Holland, this enigmatic and crafty woman changes her identity and masterfully sets about establishing herself in London society. There are disastrous consequences for all as this machiavellian-like noblewoman, prostitute, and brothel keeper, sets up a business in London's bawdier section in order to steadfastly peruse her life of scandal and vice.
As the reader is gradually drawn into Mrs. Fox's journal, it soon becomes clear that she's willfully on the run from the dark secrets of her past. A lively correspondence also develops between her and van Essel, their relationship revealed to be far more intimate than at first thought. Exchanging witty banter and confiding their darkest secrets with each other, Fox and van Essel conspire to destroy the degenerate nobleman Urban Fine, who is responsible for the downfall of Essel's first true love.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 April 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading this book I thought, "What a rip off of Dangerous Liaisons!". Then I realised it is a continuation or homage to the classic. Had I known it was meant to be Dangerous Liaisons 2 then I would not have been so irritated and, had I read the original recently, I might have recalled the ending better and fell in faster! This is a good book and you can obviously read it as a story alone. However, it isn't a patch on the book it intends to emulate...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By baroquemaniac on 1 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover
A steep descent into the unsavoury underbelly of a ship and a turbulent crossing of the Channel brilliantly set afloat an uninhibited romp through those realms of 18th cenutry society where lust and greed reign supreme; and though I am not fit to judge if the stylistic mimicry of the book (the story is told through the protagonists' letters and journal entries) is faultless, it is done with gusto and provides agreeable linguistic entertainment.

Some 200 pages into the novel, however, my initial enthusiasm had somewhat flagged: The expectations raised by the blurb's mentioning 'Dangerous liaisons' were met so perfectly by this pungent stew of debauchery, cynicism and innocence corrupted that I began to wonder if there was any novelty or surprise in it at all; and its steering clear of sentimental turns and soppy props, quite refreshing for a start, was in the context of the literary ancestry eventually as predictable as Cinderella's hitting it off with the prince in any pulp romance.

I also wished the author would lavish more attention on individual episodes instead of compulsively weaving an ever more intricate web of intrigues and stratagems within a limited space (this is not a long novel), for it is my belief that how something is told matters much more than what is told, and I remember uncomplainingly swallowing considerable chunks of conventional plotting because so much loving care had gone into its circumstantial rendering.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Mar. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thank goodness for a historical novel that doesnt have soppy women in it and ripping bodices. This story is very dark but also funny - which I didn't expect. The main character Mrs Fox has had a morality bypass and behaves like a man but with feminine cunning, manipulating everyone she comes across for her own ends, using sex or brains or straightforward lies to get what she wants. It reminded me a bit of Moll Flanders, who had a similar devil-take-the-hindmost attitude to life, and came out unrepentant, and on top. You get a really good sense of being in London in the 1780s; not only how it all looks and sounds, but that it is grubby too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By neverendings on 9 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Fleeing scandal in pre-Revolutionary Paris and then again from Amsterdam, a French `lady' and her maid, Victoire, arrive in London. Once settled into their lodgings, the Marquise (under the newly assumed name of Mrs Fox) sets about insinuating herself into the city's high society. They have been in flight from notoriety and scandal abroad, and this time they hope they might actually escape the past and start afresh. Well, that is the plan on the surface but despite the respectable facade she presents to the world, London's seamy underworld of decadence and prostitution is soon drawn to Mrs Fox's particular brand of immorality.

The majority of the novel is told through Mrs Fox's voice, which is articulate and irreverent but also provides a very clear picture of all the characters. To an extent, they're all just pawns in Mrs Fox's game, but they're all drawn as complete characters in and of themselves, too. Stockley's vivid characterisation and playful humour ensure the story always moves on quickly and keeps the reader engaged throughout. Although the plot is complex, it's told with such a sense of fun that you don't really notice all of the groundwork that has been laid until it all starts being tied together. You won't be able to predict this one, although you might be able to guess who wins! Fans of `Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters will not be disappointed.
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