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–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 immortal-ized 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.