Wicked Companyby Ciji Ware
All of life's a wicked stage and love a dangerous drama...
Ciji Ware is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with tremendous media savvy and charisma in addition to being an author of historical fiction novels. She has appeared on the Today show to promote her books, and continues to be highly involved with her own projects in the television and film/i>/b>… See more details below
All of life's a wicked stage and love a dangerous drama...
Ciji Ware is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with tremendous media savvy and charisma in addition to being an author of historical fiction novels. She has appeared on the Today show to promote her books, and continues to be highly involved with her own projects in the television and film industries. She lives with her husband in San Francisco.
"The author does a wonderful job at keeping a nice pace to the story and gives us a realistic look at what Great Britain might have been during the 1700's." - Yankee Romance Reviewers
"A thick historical novel set in the 18th century with a wickedly strong heroine and with a great view of the gritty world of the theatre." - Readin and Dreamin
"Author Ciji Ware weaves a tale of intrigue and passion filled with secrets, betrayal, and danger all set against a theatrical background. While some of the characters are fiction, the author also intertwines historical characters along the way adding to the story." - Thoughts in Progress
"Fascinating... The author has a knack for engrossing the reader in the details. " - Debbie's Book Bag
"Ciji has a great talent for creating awesome and unforgettable characters. " - Passages to the Past
"The characters are enchanting, determined, real life, strong, independent and will sweep you off your feet... A wonderful story. A keeper." - My Book Addiction and More
"The novel is rich in fascinating historical detail." - Backseat Writer
"[An] epic feel and intricate historical detail, but with an admirable protagonist." - HistoricalFiction.net
"Ms. Ware's writing style is such that you find yourself drawn into the time period. " - Broken Teepee
"Wicked Company is chock full of interesting characters like James Boswell and David Garrick and I absolutely loved the descriptions of the Drury Lane theater community with their squabbles and rivalries" - The Tome Traveller's Weblog
"Ciji Ware is one of those rare authors who never has a misstep. Every book of hers is extremely well-written, historically detailed and well plotted." - Books Like Breathing
"Ware has artfully blended the historical players of 18th-century London theater... Her details of time and place are extraordinary, allowing readers to experience the cold, the smells, the scenery, and the costumes of the time. This is a must- read. " - Historical Novels Reviews
"Wicked Company has made me a Ciji Ware devotee, this author not only rights beautiful stories, her text is a lyrical experience throughout. As the melodic plot unfolds she adds unique and charming characters who offer the perfect counterpoint." - Bookworm's Dinner
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Read an Excerpt
Thro' all the drama-whether damned or not-
Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot.
-Richard Brinsley Sheridan,
"Epilogue," The Rivals
Edinburgh, May 1761
"Sophie, lass! Quickly! Hide your book!" Daniel McGann urged his daughter, as he peered anxiously through the square windowpanes at the front of his small book shop. Outside, a group of dour, somberly attired men were striding like avenging angels along Edinburgh's High Street. "'Tis the kirk elders!" he confirmed, wringing his ink-stained hands. "They're coming this way!"
Sophie sprang from her stool in front of the diminutive hearth that was the shop's only source of heat. She quickly shoved her copy of Fielding's Tom Jones, along with Rousseau's novel La Nouvelle Heloise, beneath a pile of pungent chunks of peat stored in a wooden box next to the fire. Without further instructions, she grabbed several other books that she, even at the age of sixteen, knew would be judged "ungodly" by the gaggle of religious fanatics bearing down on her father's book-and-printing establishment. Swiftly she stashed the offending volumes behind a row of Bibles displayed prominently on one of the front shelves and reserved precisely for just such an emergency.
Daniel McGann, his gray periwig slightly askew and his upper lip sheened with sweat, was greatly alarmed that for the second time in scarcely a month his shop was the apparent target of the wrath of Calvinist churchmen from nearby St. Giles Cathedral. The local Presbyterian clergy had long voiced disapproval of the novels, plays, and engravings that had made McGann's one of the most popular gathering places for the literati in Edinburgh. From the angry looks on their faces today, the zealots seemed determined to drive McGann's out of business.
Somber bells in the church tower overhead tolled the noon hour as Daniel McGann reached beneath a counter and pushed several parcels wrapped in outdated theater playbills into Sophie's hands.
"Out the back portal with you!" he croaked over the tolling bells. "Deliver the thin packet to Lord Lemore and the thick one to the Canongate Playhouse." As his daughter bolted toward the rear exit, he called after her, "Hurry, now! And mind that you collect the siller for 'em! We've scarcely two Scots pennies in the till."
Making her escape, Sophie heard the sound of the front door opening as the imperious men in black once again invaded her father's domain. She sped through the back room that housed the small wooden hand press and a variety of implements that comprised their modest printing business. Several sheets from a recently completed order hung drying on lengths of cord stretched across the back of the low-ceilinged chamber. As she rushed through the squat door at the rear of the press room that was permeated with a perpetual smell of carbon black and linseed oil, she prayed-blasphemously, she supposed-that no offending political broadside, pamphlet, or chapbook would be inadvertently discovered by the raiding churchmen. Pausing to listen, she heard a chorus of angry voices fill the front chamber.
"Vile works! Abominations!" a voice thundered from inside the shop.
"You, sir, traffic in the Devil's commerce!"
Those squawking black vultures should leave us alone! Sophie thought defiantly as she darted down the narrow alleyway shadowed by St. Giles's bell tower looming overhead.
Inside her father's book shop, the churchmen were systematically pulling books from the shelves and flinging them onto the flagstones beneath their feet.
"We've given you ample warning, McGann," the Reverend Mr. Meeker pronounced, "yet still you trade in the works of Satan!"
Daniel McGann stared with growing dismay at the pile of volumes by the likes of Defoe, Molière, and the dramatist William Congreve, heaped on the floor next to his desk.
"Surely you don't consider Shakespeare-" Daniel began to protest, as he watched several of the bard's comedies join the pile.
"'Tis bawdry!" Reverend Meeker retorted. "Full of jesters and fools mouthing blasphemy. 'Tis intolerable!"
Briefly, Daniel imagined how his wife, Margaret, would have responded to such an invasion, such absurd pronouncements. When Margaret was alive, her dark head bent over her weekly correspondence with the best book agents in London, he had boldly challenged the arguments and actions of these kirk zealots and had been a leader in local efforts to beat back the meddling churchmen's attempts to dictate cultural and religious standards to the entire city.
But that was before the bleak winter when the tumor had first appeared on his wife's neck, the malignancy that had squeezed the breath and life out of the poor woman by the time nearby Whinny Hill was splashed with autumn heather. These days, he could barely summon the energy to peruse his stock of books, much less battle the fanatics holding forth from the pulpit next door. Many buyers had stayed away and sales were dwindling. When he was forced to sack his clerk, Sophie, bless her, had taken over minding the accounts, and had acquired a working knowledge of the shop's inventory. She had even learned the skills necessary to run the small printing press in the back chamber where broadsides, chapbooks, and playbills earned them much needed extra income.
"Have you been struck dumb, McGann?" demanded the rotund Reverend Meeker. "I'm asking you to forswear selling such ungodly texts in future, or stand ready to accept the dire consequences that God shall mete out! What say you?"
"I say you are blinded, bigoted fools," Daniel replied without rancor, "and ignorant ones as well, if you don't delight in Shakespeare," he added, staring sorrowfully at the books that Meeker's henchmen would probably burn to cinders.
Reverend Meeker glared at Daniel McGann with speechless indignation. At last he turned and strode toward the front door, followed by the others. Upon reaching the threshold, he turned to impart a final threat, his bulbous nose crimson with fury.
"If you persist in leading the public down such paths of wickedness, McGann, you shall find yourself brought up on charges of libel and blasphemy!"
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