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922 pages, Paperback
First published April 10, 2002
The aforementioned William – self-centered but not entirely vile; a would-be essayist and wag; a man defined and even a bit constrained by his social standing and the times.
The aforementioned Sugar – enterprising and smart; a devotee of [pun alert] Dale Carnalgie’s How to Win Johns and Manipulate People; riveting to see how her people smarts and hooker’s talent for prevarication play out in chess matches of actions and reactions.
Agnes – William’s wife who is actually somewhat deranged (we as readers are clued in to the cause even though the characters are not); beautiful yet naïve; almost laughably shallow by modern standards as the product of a finishing school.
Henry – William’s older brother who is in certain ways the better chap; would rather have been a man of the cloth than a man of commerce (as their father had originally hoped); earnest as the day is long but unable to suppress those pesky animal urges.
Emmeline Fox – a somewhat iconoclastic widow who does social work to help prostitutes in need; the object of Henry’s affections; one with a better applied sense of religion; ill but unyielding.
Sophie – William’s six-year-old daughter who begins as a near non-entity but turns into a character with surprising depth; much of her blossoming is due to a source I shan’t divulge.
Interesting others, among them prostitutes whose hearts range from gold to substances not nearly so glittery, a leech-toting doctor who sees to poor Agnes, and a couple of William’s friends from school – abominable but pretty damned funny.