By Maryka Biaggio
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307950895, 400pp.)
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A sparkling historical novel based on the remarkable true story of turn-of-the-century con artist May Dugas, once dubbed America's "Most Dangerous Woman.”
It’s 1887, and eighteen-year-old May Dugas has ventured to Chicago in hopes of earning enough money to support her family. Yet when circumstances force her to take up residence at the city’s most infamous bordello, she chooses to use her feminine wiles to extract not only sidelong looks but also large sums of money from the men she encounters. Insinuating herself into high society, May lands a well-to-do fiancé—until, that is, a Pinkerton detective named Reed Doherty intervenes.
Reed has made it his mission to bring May to justice, and he pursues her across the world, from Shanghai to London and back, until he makes one last daring attempt to corner her. But May still has a few tricks up her sleeve, tricks that just might prove she’s one tough woman to catch.
Maryka Biaggio, a former psychology professor, has many scholarly publishing credits to her name, but Parlor Games is her debut novel. Maryka loves the challenge of starting with actual historical figures and dramatizing their lives—imagining what motivated them to behave as the did, studying how the cultural and historical context may have influenced them, and recreating some sense of their emotional world through dialogue and action. She travels extensively, for both work and pleasure, is crazy about opera, and enjoys gardening, art films, and, of course, great fiction. She lives in Portland, Oregon, that edgy green gem of the Pacific Northwest.
- In the first paragraph May says, “You and I, my new friend, will become well acquainted over the course of this tale.” This suggests something more than the reader simply becoming acquainted with May. Why might the narrator address the reader like this in the opening chapter?
“A captivating tale narrated by [an] irresistible and deliciously unreliable con-woman…. Wildly entertaining.” —Daisy Goodwin, author of The American Heiress
“Prepare to be joyously fleeced. . . . A true pleasure, something like munching your way through a box of chocolates all by yourself.” —Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
“Like Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair before her, May Dugas—delightfully unrepentant—charms with tantalizing glimpses of her con games.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace
“A story of scheming, ladder-climbing and scandal during the Gilded Age.” –The Oregonian
“Parlor Games is both playful and deeply serious in its portrayal of one determined woman’s battle to make her way in a man’s world. You’ll be cheering for May Dugas as she cons her way across the continents. She’s a terrific creation.” —Matt Rees, author of Mozart’s Last Aria
“An engaging glimpse into a character who categorically eludes our attempts to define her.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An entertaining romp across the globe, through bedrooms on several continents, and a fascinating insight into a very complicated, and perhaps totally amoral woman.” —State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
“Biaggio re-creates the deliciously fabulous foibles and follies of a woman born into hardscrabble circumstances but determined to make her way in the world with wit, beauty, and a brazen ability to exploit her feminine charms for a very high price. Whether one admires or reviles May, there’s no doubt that she [Biaggio] makes the most of every entertaining opportunity. . . . Sheer, frenetic fun.” —Booklist
“Mae West once quipped that ‘good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere,’ and this other May sure is one bad girl who goes everywhere. . . . Sparkles.” —Historical Novels Review