London, 1760s. A city whose veneer of genteel civility is cracking from the hypocrisy and violence bubbling underneath - and where two women are about to discover what really lies beneath their own lives. In her cramped rooms, Betsy-Ann shuffles a pack of cards. A gambler, a dealer in gin and stolen goods, and living with a grave robber, she knows there's no honour amongst thieves but desperately wants to make a fresh start. Sophia, sitting in her Bath parlour, is newly married to the charismatic Edward. Shy and demure, she can hardly believe her luck, especially since she is hiding 'a little weakness', one she is determined to conquer. When both women uncover horrifying secrets about the men they thought they knew, their lives interweave through a dramatic series of events. Who will come up trumps? Ace, King, Knave is a rich and involving novel of deception, power, sex and gambles of many kinds, and an unforgettable portrait of eighteenth-century England, from acclaimed historical novelist Maria McCann.
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Maria McCann is the author of As Meat Loves Salt (Fourth Estate, 2001) which was an Economist Book of the Year and The Wilding (Faber, 2010) which was longlisted for the Orange Prize and chosen as a Richard and Judy book club choice. She has also contributed to various anthologies, most recently to Why Willows Weep (October 2011) and Beacons (edited by Gregory Norminton, which will appear in 2013).Review:
An absorbing novel about different kinds of freedom or entrapment; of the heart, of the body, of convention and class, loyalty and lies ... Exploring the seamier side of 18th-century London - poverty, violence, deceit - its dialogue catches something of the foreignness of the past, and is threaded through with a warmth and lightness of touch that makes McCann's world a pleasure to inhabit. Highly diverting. Jane Borodale, author of The Book of Fires and The Knot Absolutely brilliant - I loved it. The characters leap off the page right from the outset. The story is utterly compelling. The historical texture, rich and convincing. The writing is breathtakingly good. R N Morris
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