Sunday, February 10, 2013
I've finished "Parlor Games" by Maryka Biaggo.
A sweeping historical novel about a beautiful con artist whose turn-of-the-century escapades take her around the world as she's doggedly pursued by a Pinkerton Agency detective
The novel opens in 1917 with our cunning protagonist, May Dugas, standing trial for extortion. As the trial unfolds, May tells her version of events.
In 1887, at the tender age of eighteen, May ventures to Chicago in hopes of earning enough money to support her family. Circumstances force her to take up residence at the city’s most infamous bordello, but May soon learns to employ her considerable feminine wiles to extract not only sidelong looks but also large sums of money from the men she encounters. Insinuating herself into Chicago’s high society, May lands a well-to-do fiancé — until, that is, a Pinkerton Agency detective named Reed Doherty intervenes and summarily foils the engagement.
Unflappable May quickly rebounds, elevating seduction and social climbing to an art form as she travels the world, eventually marrying a wealthy Dutch Baron. Unfortunately, Reed Doherty is never far behind and continues to track May in a delicious cat-and-mouse game as the newly-minted Baroness’s misadventures take her from San Francisco to Shanghai to London and points in between.
The Pinkerton Agency really did dub May the “Most Dangerous Woman,” branding her a crafty blackmailer and ruthless seductress. To many, though, she was the most glamorous woman to grace high society. Was the real May Dugas a cold-hearted swindler or simply a resourceful provider for her poor family?
As the narrative bounces back and forth between the trial taking place in 1917 and May’s devious but undeniably entertaining path to the courtroom — hoodwinking and waltzing her way through the gilded age and into the twentieth century — we're left to ponder her guilt as we move closer to finding out what fate ultimately has in store for our irresistible adventuress.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (January 15, 2013)
The book opens in 1917 with May a cunning extortionist awaiting trial. As the trial goes on we learn the events leading up to the trial.
When May was 18 years old she traveled to Chicago in hopes to make money to send to her family back home. Unfortunately things do go as well as she thought and she is forced to work at a infamous bordello where she learns to use her feminine wiles to swindle men from their money. She lands a rich fiance but a Pinkerton agent Reed Doherty puts a stop to the engagement.
May rebounds back while traveling the world using her wiles and social climbing and evidently marrying a rich Dutch Baron. Reed Doherty is on her steps and isn't too far behind the newly minted Baroness chasing her from San Francisco to Shanghai to London and places in between.
May's character development was well written from her childhood to mature adulthood. The author did a great job in researching the fashion, environment, food, architecture and describing them in great detail.