Meet Baroness May Dugas, the most dangerous woman in the world.
Standing trial for extortion, the story of May Dugas unfolds as she tells her version of the events which lead her to the trial in 1917. From leaving home, searching for a way to earn enough money to support her family.
Branded as a crafty blackmailer and ruthless seductress. To many, though, May 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.
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio is a historical fiction, based off of the events of a real trial, which I admittedly didn’t know when I first read the book. The story is May’s retelling of her life choices and events which lead to her famous trial, telling an amusing story, but one which makes you consider the evidence placed against her, and the way May explains what happened.
Parlor Games is very well-written, and engaging. May’s life makes for an entertaining tale, as do the people she meets throughout the story. However, I did find myself losing interest with it half-way through, as it picks up a repetitive nature. Telling mostly of her sleeping with a variety of men and coercing them to give her money and buy her things — and then complaining when after using them, things don’t go exactly her way. May Dugas overall doesn’t make for a sympathetic character, or one that can hold your attention for very long.
The ending itself was also very abrupt, and seemed incongruous with the rest of the story, almost as if May (as the story is told in such a way that it’s something she’s writing), just grew bored with writing and wrote the end for the sake of their being an end.
While I may not particularly be a fan of the story of May Dugas, Biaggio’s writing style and voice is one that I found enjoyable, and I will probably be reading more of her books in the future.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.