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By Philippa Stockley
In late seventeenth century London two women, one white, one black, stake everything to prevent a manipulative mogul destroying them. Zenobia, born in poverty, grasps that her only hope of controlling her own life is to capitalise on her looks; Lily, brought to London on a sugar and slave ship as a `toy’, educated alongside her mistress but used by her master, lives as a kept woman.
As their story weaves and folds through a murky and merciless London, both find themselves pitted against a ruthless man the world knows as John Crace. London’s rich but festering possibilities as a rapidly-changing multinational city are breathtakingly painted, and pungent milieux ranging from plague pits to prisons to pastry kitchens – and Pickled Herring Stairs – are vividly brought to life.
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