Review: Philippa Stockley’s “A Factory of Cunning”

by writereaderly

philppa stockley a factory of cunningUnderway for the last four days, the Factory is set in 1784 London, written in high Georgian English, telling of the manipulations and cunning of the aptly named femme fatale for fun, Mrs Fox (ah, so much unintended alliteration!). Whorehouses, seducations (typo intended), theft, murder, defamation, games, poison, it’s all there, in this epistolary/journal-based book that suffers only fools and fraudsters (more alliteration!). I think my summary would be that this novel is a virtuoso performance, terribly adroit, well-researched, tightly plotted and skilful, but I didn’t really like it. I think Stockley was writing too “hard”, in the sense that KAM says that poor actors act so damned hard. Too writerly, too clever, it never felt effortless. It did, however, have a satisfying number of dog-eared pages with nice fat vocabulary on them, which is always a pleasure.

Where it came from: Opshop
Time and manner of reading:
Various bed and armchair and wait reads – not too fast, though, it’s too dense to strip through
Where it went: ?
Reminds me of/that: Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Chaderlos de Laclos
Who I’d recommend it to: Those in search of skilled historical debauchery
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley