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A Factory of Cunning

2.98  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
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 again ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published April 11th 2005)
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Madison Reid
Aug 03, 2013 Madison Reid rated it liked it
A Factory of Cunning was entertaining and clever (not to mention sufficiently scandalous). As a previous reviewer aptly noted, there is something decadent and enticing about journeying into the mind of characters who take such pleasure and relish in their own borderline-sociopathic quests to fulfill their narcissistic desires and agendas. Moreover, the epistolary format was pulled off rather more nicely than many authors manage. However, I must take issue with the fact that, despite the boundles ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Heather rated it did not like it
this book really wanted to be dangerous liasons, but fell flat on pretty much every level.
it started out well enough. the characters had interesting premises and interesting circumstances and lots of creative ideas....but as the story progressed i wanted more depth from them. in dangerous liasons, the characters are bored nobles playing a strategy game in order to entertain themselves....and their feelings get in the way - that is interesting.
but in this book, the main character is not a noble w
Apr 11, 2008 Roberto rated it really liked it
Dear Ms. Stockley , Im writing this review now that I have read your novel " A Factory of Cunning". First of all , I must confess that I am not very fond of epistolary novels but nevertheless I enjoyed it although I have some mixed feelings about your book. I must concede to you that you had a gift to make every voice in this novel distinct and I absolutely LOVED your wordplays and wit. I also loved the 18th century Georgian England trivia you scattered along the novel. Also, you managed brillia ...more
Jan 07, 2017 Bonnie rated it really liked it
The author uses letters and journal entries to plot a wickedly entertaining romp through grand estates and county seats and deep into London's back alleys and bawdy houses. Mrs. Fox, a noble woman, had suffered indignities and uncomfortable horrors to sail from Amsterdam and an scandalous past to seek revenge on a debauched British aristocrat, Earl Much. He had spent his life collecting priceless objects d'art and ruining young women. Her letters to a confidant blister the society they expose. A ...more
Jun 29, 2008 Carla rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book and delved in expectantly. Unfortunately it's written in the form of letters to and from the main character--a format I dislike because it seems overly edited. The author didn't create any sympathy for her characters, except maybe for the sidekick / maid but since she's not one of the letter writers or receivers she doesn't get much of a treatment. Also, I'm pretty decent at English colloquialisms and cultural references but this was so bogged down in them that ...more
Awet Moges
Mar 11, 2012 Awet Moges rated it liked it
Solid sequel to one of the very greatest novels ever. I won't bother with the synopsis: only to justify the three star review:

The characterization and the plot are solid, but I can't help feel that this sequel was a missed opportunity.

Less of a true extension of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and closer to fan fiction quality where the author seems more excited to play with her favorite characters in a new setting (British aristocracy).
Kristena West
Mar 04, 2016 Kristena West rated it really liked it
What a fabulous romp - a real Victorian jewel of the bon mot! Very dangerous Liaisons, and halfway through the book I disliked the "anti-heroine" as well. However, there was soooo much intrigue afoot that I was really very interested.

A good Read indeed. 4 stars for excellent writing!!! (there are so many "beach" books out there I can barely stand trying a new book anymore. Writers who write like; see jane run. jane picks up beach towel. jane begins to think. etc.)
Dec 08, 2010 Amie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you liked Les Liaisons Dangereuses
It is smart and fast paced. The writing is wonderful. Feelsas though you are reading something written in the period. I had to reread the ending just to make certain I had understood everything. This would make an incredible film.
Jun 28, 2007 Rachelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Dangerous Liasons
This wonderful book, written in the epistolary fashion, picks up where Dangerous Liasons left off. A slow start builds to a complex plot that will leave you reading into the night. I loved this book!
Mar 13, 2007 Lilly rated it really liked it
This reads like a classic, but is a fast read about a wily woman on the run. Some of the writing (because of its older style) could be hard to follow, or the action/connections weren't immediately obvious to me, but I was definitely hooked.
P Dreadful
Jun 02, 2017 P Dreadful rated it did not like it
Shelves: family-drama
A Factory of Cunning by Phillipa Stockley is a fine example of pretentious writing. Halfway through, I was left wondering what the point was. Granted, we have a feisty and unscrupulous protagonist straining to make ends meet in a foreign land, but that is all there is to it. To divert herself from the dullness of her daily life, she hatches schemes to destroy an Earl, who is equally unscrupulous, if not more. Of all the occupations in the world, she chose to become the mistress of a brothel in E ...more
Feb 08, 2017 Anna rated it really liked it
This book really surprised me; I loved it! It drew me in slowly, then just as I was hooked I started worrying the story would fail to deliver. The ending satisfied!
I loved Stockley's witty style of writing. I took great joy in the writing throughout the book. The characters were for the most part interesting and the plot certainly full of twists.
It is set in 18th century London which means I had to stumble over the old English and archaic references. I found myself reading with phone in hand, re
Jan 31, 2015 isa rated it liked it
for some reason i marked this with five stars before i even finished it - uh, yikes. i'm being generous now because it follows the exploits of my favorite literary character of all time (though i would have preferred for her to be referenced by her actual name instead of vague handwaving references to les liaisons dangereuses, which someone who hadn't read it would miss), but this was definitely not my favorite book. it reads like nine billion other period pieces of its type and the mood is not ...more
Jennifer de Guzman
May 09, 2012 Jennifer de Guzman rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A decadent diversion, a delicious bit of dessert.

There is something enticing about reading a book about someone who takes such pleasure in being evil, a way of the shadow self living vicariously.

The epistolary account started a bit slowly, but as it dawned on me who our fantastic Mrs. Fox is (something I must have known when I decided to read the book but had since forgotten), the story took on more dimensions and became more enjoyable.

I'd call Mrs. Fox a singular creation -- arch, intelligent,
Sep 07, 2011 Dana rated it liked it
"Mrs. Fox" arrives in late eighteenth-century London on the run from a scandalous French past. She has taken on a new identity and wishes to rehabilitate herself to her former class level. At the same time a dear friend from the Netherlands has asked her to destroy Earl Much. Earl Much is a British aristocrat who collects priceless objets d'art and ruins young maidens.

The reader is transported to a world of bawdy houses, debauchery, ruination of willful maidens and intrigue. The earl proves to b
Alethea White-Previs
Jan 17, 2016 Alethea White-Previs rated it it was ok
The period details and the truth of London's seedy underbelly brought the period to life very vividly. Each character remained true to their characterization.

The holes in the plot. The novel is epistolary, and I felt there were a few extraneous characters writing letters, along with a series of sub-plots that I didn't quite understand in the context of the central plot.

I expected a good deal more from this novel. I was left feeling befuddled and confused.
Lisa James
Dec 25, 2012 Lisa James rated it liked it
Interesting historical fiction novel, comprised of letters back & forth between the principal characters, telling a WILD tale of betrayal, seduction, twisted lies, bizarre deceptions, etc. It was definitely a page turner, with enough plot twists & turns to make the reader dizzy :) Just at the end, when you thought the ending was indeed the ending, part 6 twists that ending on it's ear to the real ending, which ties everything up & makes you smile.
Aug 28, 2007 Marilee rated it liked it
In a Vanity Fair tradition, and set in the late 1700s, this book is a series of letters following the intrigues of a powerful woman. She wants to take the world for all its worth, but it ends up nearly taking her. She is a procuress, with all that entails.
Not a bad read. Just happened to pick it up off the shelf at the library. Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year--whatever that award is...
Unfortunately, although the critics were smitten with it, this book is not only boring because of its prose written in letters, but because of the absolutely foreseeable plot. The protagonists get into foreseeable problems and story stats one dimensional from start to finish. I wish I hadn't bought and read this book.
Dec 06, 2013 Stefanie rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book- the format of using letters instead of typical prose was fun and different. Lot of witty writing, easy to miss if you don't read closely. I just wish the ending had been a little more complete- felt like a lot of buildup to a not 100%satisfying resolution.
Anne Marsh
Dec 29, 2011 Anne Marsh rated it liked it
This was a fun, light, quick read if you enjoy late 18th c. fiction. I'm not a huge fan of epistolary fiction, either then or now, but this was enjoyable. A little more character development would have been nice-- there didn't seem to be too many (if any) redeeming qualities to Mrs. Fox.
Nov 05, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it
Hated it in the first 50 pages, but I stuck with it. It became quite a fun novel. Recommend for the determined reader who will wade through the muck to get to the gem.
Nov 22, 2008 Jo rated it did not like it
Dull. The blurb on the back made it look quite good but I couldn't even finish it
Marty D
Oct 27, 2013 Marty D rated it liked it
Didn't wow me.
Stephanie Simmons
May 12, 2014 Stephanie Simmons rated it liked it
Was kind of hard to get into because it is written in letters and journal entries.
Sep 08, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok
Apparently this novel takes over where Dangerous Liasions left off. It's sort of Fanny Hill meets Tom Fielding. I'm not sure how much I like it so far.
Oct 03, 2013 feimineach rated it liked it
Shelves: reader-kindle
Briefly: Beautifully written in a prose I could have read forever. Shame it tailed off at the end and lost me.
Rachel Zylstra
Mar 11, 2011 Rachel Zylstra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! A bit slow to catch onto the story, but a good read in the end.
Dec 02, 2008 Sarah rated it did not like it
yeah. so. read through page 45 or so and then just decided not to keep reading. it didn't pique my interest at all. bah.
Maria Ray
Maria Ray rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2012
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