Based on a true story, “Parlor Games” stole my heart from the very first page. The first person perspective provided an intimate view of the heroine at the center of “Parlor Games.” Whether calling herself May, Pauline, the Baroness, or any other name, May’s conniving character was completely engaging! The writing evoked an elegant quality which served to lure me into believing May was a refined woman of the early 1900’s rather than a calculating social climber seeking out her next victim. As with any book told in multiple time frames, I tend to prefer one story over the other. Here, I was more interested in May’s recount of her life’s struggles than in the trial where she was accused of defrauding a future friend, but both were interesting.
I wouldn’t normally have liked our heroine since her cunning nature is a bit unforgiving. But the author created a character who had just enough innocence to redeem her. May flits from one city to the next, with a “fly by the seat of your pants” attitude that inevitably lands her into compromising situations. Although her goal is to live off a rich man, ultimately she is taken advantage of almost as much as she takes advantage of others. The excitement of May’s life is enhanced with the constantly changing setting. Neither the reader, nor May, knows where she will end up next. Her travels through Chicago, New York, London, Mexico, and Hong Kong, help to portray the extravagant and ever-changing life May leads. What I liked most about the novel was that the story never slowed down. The quick plot changed every few pages, which made this a face paced story that was impossible not to love.
I enjoyed everything about this book and wish there were more like it! The novel would appeal most to women, but anyone would likely appreciate the strong writing and of course, the enchanting May.