Sophie McGann is helping her widowed father Daniel McGann run his bookstore in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1761, that is if they can keep the Kirk elders from confiscating all their books because of religious "decency" censorship. Daniel is forced to ordered lewd engravings for a local nobleman in order to earn money to support them, and after Sophie rebuffs the local lord's advances, Daniel finds himself imprisoned because of the engravings. Sophie turns to Hunter Robertson, a local juggler and singer, whose career Sophie helped, for support and comfort. When her father dies in prison just days before his release, Sophie uses her printing skills to create a flyer lambasting the Kirk elders, judges, and officials, resulting in Sophie being forced to flee to London.
In London, Sophie takes over her deceased uncle's bookstore and printing business, quickly forming a business relationship with David Garrick of the Drury Lane theatre, and develops an appreciation of the female playwrights in the London theatre scene. Hunter makes his way to London, looking for advancement in his acting career, but the two part ways when Hunter goes off to pursue his career with a female rival of Sophie. Sophie finds her head turned and her heart strings tugged by the attentions of Sir Peter Lindsay-Hoyt, a wealthy baronet, who has aspirations of writing plays with his friend aristocrat Roderick Darnely. Peter and Sophie create a play that achieves success, with Peter's name on it, and Sophie finds herself wed to Peter and pregnant before she knows it. But Sophie's happily-ever-after is quickly shattered, and Sophie must find a way to create a life for herself, in a society that does not value female contributions.
Can Sophie ever have a career writing plays when society frowns upon female playwrights? Can Hunter ever put his love for Sophie above his career aspirations? Can Sophie and Hunter ever find a way to be together when Peter stands between them?
"Wicked Company" by Ciji Ware is a re-release, but one that will enthrall both first time readers and previous fans, with its historical look at the obstacles facing female playwrights at the end of the 1700s, interspersed with a star-crossed romance filled with intrigue and misunderstandings, reminscent of Shakespeare himself. While at times the story seems muddled, with plots introduced and not fully developed, this is still an enjoyable read for fans of historical entertainment.
If Shakespeare had a sister…
In 18th century London the glamorous Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres were all the rage, beckoning every young actor, actress, playwright, and performer with the lure of fame and fortune. But competition and back-biting between theatre owners, patrons, actors, and writers left aspiring playwrights with their work stolen, profits withheld, and reputations on the line. For a female, things were harder still, as the chances of a “petticoat playwright” getting past the government censor were slim.
In this exciting and cutthroat world, Sophie McGann, a young woman with a talent for writing and an ambition to see her work performed, could rise to glory, or could lose all in the blink of an eye…
In Ciji Ware’s signature style, real-life characters of the day create a backdrop for a portrait of a glittering era, a love story, and a compelling glimpse into what life was like for a strong and independent-minded woman in an emphatically man’s world.