Fiction ace king knave

Published on February 2nd, 2014


Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

| Press reviews | Buy the book | Have your say |

Blurb: 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. (Faber & Faber)

Stephanie Merritt, The Observer

“Betsy-Ann is the stronger character, and the one for whom you suspect the author holds the greatest affection. Her narrative is so dense with 18th-century slang that for the first few chapters you find yourself flicking constantly to the glossary provided at the back to understand cullys and nantz, blunt and flats, autem morts and gentry-coves. If this slows the narrative at first, the reader quickly grows accustomed to it, and the argot of the gaming tables and brothels gives Betsy’s narrative the rich and dirty flavour of the streets, distinct from the gentility of the interior world to which Sophia clings with increasing desperation.”

Read full review

Justine Jordan, The Guardian

“The story that unfolds is highly coloured but lightly executed, and reads as though it were an enormous pleasure to write.”

Read full review

David Evans, The Financial Times

“While Sophia’s character is a little underdeveloped, Betsy-Ann is brilliantly drawn, an intelligent, resourceful woman whose speech is spiced with pungent similes (her love rival is “pale and gooey as a gob of phlegm”) and ribald slang. McCann appends a glossary of the more obscure terms although “buggeranto” probably needs no translation.”

Read full review

Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times

“ a vivid, ingenious narrative”

Read full review

Jonathan Barnes, Literary Review

“Both female protagonists are likeable and sympathetic but they are trapped within a narrative that is leaden and lacks momentum. McCann’s prose, filled with ostentatious 18th-century slang (‘their ken’s most likely been stripped by fire priggers’), possesses a self-conscious stolidity which strains for period effect”

Read full review

Buy the book

Amazon | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones

Share Button
Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann The Omnivore



Tags: ,

Back to Top ↑