On His Fic Saturday
Let's divide our time between the modern world and eighteenth century France
What happens when life is a game, played for the high stakes of power, wealth and love? Two men from different eras, united by their genius for making money, are about to find out.
In eighteenth century Paris, John Law aspires to become Banker for the French monarchy, currying the favour of Louis XIV by bartering the affections of his wife and partner, Katherine.
In twenty-first century London, his descendant, Theo, orchestrates the movement of money around the Dark Web for the Russian mafia and a cash-strapped Vatican.
For both men, no wager is too high because all life is a gamble.
The Gaming Room is a fast-moving, time-shifting fusion of history, romance and psychological thriller. The stories converge when the two of them play out a final, fateful game of cards in a dream-like eighteenth century Venice. There, as Carnival rages and the floodwaters rise, they learn the true price of winning at all costs...
📖 My thoughts..
Dual time frames are, as I have said many times before, notoriously difficult to get right as sometimes one era will insist on outshining the other but not so with The Gaming Room which brings together two very different settings but links them through the common ancestry of two very unusual men.
Theo Law is good at moving other people's money around and in our modern capitalist world that is something to be both feared, and envied, and as he gets drawn further into the murky world of financial politics so a darkly involved story of money shifting and corruption starts to emerge. On balance the modern world isn't so very different from that inhabited by John Law, Theo's mercurial ancestor, who makes his name in the grande salons of eighteenth century France.
The time parallels between these two lively protagonists help to move the story along with a fine eye for the complicated ethics of financial morality, or in most cases the lack of it. However, in our modern times that appears to be something to be envied, and even John Law's world three centuries earlier, as we discover, isn't immune to corruption and political skullduggery.
The story gets off to a slow and considered start but that's no criticism as the story itself runs for over 500 pages so it needs, and deserves, some serious investment of time to appreciate the depth of research undertaken to bring both times frames to such vivid life. There are clear divisions so the alternative narratives never feel muddled nor do they confuse the reader by not making perfectly clear who is speaking and what is going on. The characterisation is excellent and whilst neither of our protagonists are particularly likeable they each have a certain charm with perhaps John Law having a slight edge over Theo.
Intricately written with a strong sense of both past and present, The Gaming Room is a cleverly controlled, and rather different, dual time narrative.
About the Author
Paul Ver Bruggen is a writer, director and video producer. For many years, he’s worked as a communications consultant with the heads of many major international organisations, including governments, charities and corporations. The idea for the The Gaming Room came from his work on a campaign to fight finanical crime for an international bank. He lives in London.
The Gaming Room is available in paperback (£11.99) and ebook (£4.99) at all good bookshops and online retailers.