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Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

Ace, King, Knave

Historical Fiction   eBook Favourites   
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Selected by Sarah Broadhurst

A lush, sumptuous and vivid historical novel, the language is exquisite, the storytelling brilliant, the characters engaging and the humanity palpable. Ace, King, Knave is full of all the shallow respectability and dark underbelly of 18th Century London and the gentility of Bath as our disparate central characters’ lives are steadily woven together. Hugely enjoyable.

If you like Maria McCann you might also like to read books by Sarah Dunant, Sarah Waters and Michel Faber.

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Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Sarah Musk - 'If you love authentic historical fiction with a heavy dose of atmosphere and realism, then you must read this book.  It is so exciting and gripping, I couldn't put it down.' Read full review >
  • Helen Skinner – 'Ace, King, Knave is a very entertaining and enjoyable novel set in a world of fraud and deception, where nothing is quite as it seems.' Read full review >
  • Ann Peet - 'Gripping and atmospheric.' Read full review >
  • Magdalena Vidgen - 'Naturalistic portrait of the London underground in the XVIII Century.' Read full review >
  • Susan Walsh - 'Of lovers, grave robbers and whores, you will find a strange mixture of them all within the covers...An absolute delight.' Read full review >
  • Janet Lambert - 'a bawdy, atmospheric trip back in time to the grimy days of 18th century London...It's a vivid and pungent tale told with panache and showcasing the skill of the detailed historical research undertaken.' Read full review >
  • Cathy Small - 'We hear about the time when the class system really existed and delve into the lives of individual in these differing classes.' Read full review >
  • Jill Peters - 'Once I had persevered and immersed myself into the language of the time, I found the detail of life at the time absolutely fascinating.' Read full review >
  • Rebecca Whymark - 'Worth a read if you like historical fiction type books but unfortunately it was not for me.' Read full review >
  • Jennifer Moville - '...a brilliant book comes to life in the streets of London in the 1700s.' Read full review >
  • Kerry Bridges - 'The back cover calls this book "exuberant" and "vibrant".  I am very much afraid that after promising much, this novel delivered very little of the sort.' Read full review >


Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

Behind doors is another story. Behind doors you can do what you like. Sophia - rational, demure, and hiding a 'little weakness' - has recently married the charismatic Mr Zedland. But Zedland has secrets of his own and Sophia comes to suspect that her marriage is not what it seems. In cramped rooms in Covent Garden, Betsy-Ann shuffles a pack of cards. A gambler, dealer in second-hand goods, and living with a grave robber, her life could not be more different to Sophia's - but she too discovers that she has been lied to. As both women take steps to discover the truth, their lives come together through a dramatic series of events, taking the reader through the streets of 1760s London: a city wearing a genteel civility on its surface and rife with hypocrisy, oppression and violence lurking underneath.

About the Author

Maria McCann

Maria McCann’s first novel, As Meat Loves Salt, was published by Flamingo in 2000 to huge acclaim: Andrew Marr praised it as ‘outstanding…with all the dirt, stink, rasp and flavour of the time’ and Lionel Shriver called it ‘riveting’. Maria’s fiction has also been published in various anthologies. Since 1986 Maria has been living and working in Somerset, apart from one year spent teaching in France. She combines teaching and writing with other interests such as voluntary communities and the allotments movement.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd July 2014


Maria McCann

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Faber & Faber Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber


512 pages


Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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