"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 muslinall 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.
Even if you've never fantasized about Jane Austen in leather, you'll get a kick out of A Factory of Cunning. This deliciously wicked novel by British writer Philippa Stockley takes us back to London in the late 18th century, a dark, scurrilous time of strict public morality but ubiquitous sexual exploitation. Of course, it's difficult to fathom people so alien to us now as we deliberate how to punish Janet Jackson's errant breast while downloading pornography on a laptop at Starbucks. But Stockley is such a clever writer that somehow the relevance of her naughty historical novel peeks through.