Monday, 29 August 2011

LADY ELEANOR HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Darling Strumpet - Gillian Bagwell

Release Date: 04/08/11

SYNOPSIS:

From her beginnings as a humble oyster seller, Nell Gwynn’s dazzling rise to fame has gone down in history. Step into the tumultuous world of Restoration England, and join Nell on her journey from courtesan, to famed actress to King’s mistress in a novel that is as captivating as Nelly herself.

She sold her innocence…and captured the heart of a king.

London, 1660

Growing up in the bawdy atmosphere of 17th century Covent Garden, Nell Gwynn is little more than a girl when she enters the world of the courtesan. But Nell learns the hard way that to be at the mercy of unscrupulous men is no life at all.

With London’s theatres flourishing, Nell seizes an opportunity to change her luck and takes a job selling oranges at The King’s Playhouse on Drury Lane.

It isn’t long before Nell takes centre-stage herself and her saucy wit and ambitious temperament soon catch the eye of the young King Charles II. But can she keep him enthralled when the country’s finest Ladies are vying for his attentions at court?

Nell Gwynn was a darling of the people and the most famous courtesan of her age. You too will find it impossible to resist her in The Darling Strumpet.


REVIEW:

To be honest with you, I like a good historical fiction novel with strong female characters, so having really enjoyed Philippa Gregory and Jeanne Kalogridis I thought I’d try Gillian Bagwell as I’ve always love the tale of Charles II and Nell Gwynn.

Unfortunately what I got was a story that to be honest really didn’t say much for her character and whilst the author admits that she made a certain amount of it up there is some factual discrepancies with Nell’s known life alongside the portrayal within. Add to this that the author includes sexual sequences with a minor and it’s a wonder that this ever made it past the publishers lawyers. Whilst I’m not saying such things didn’t happen, with today’s legal implications as well as morality it was a whole set of events that the author could have briefly alluded to with a couple of lines starting the novel at a later age and thus cut out the heavily descriptive sequences.

All in, this tale really didn’t do that much for the love affair of Charles and Nell and as such it’s a great shame that this less than fully formed idea made it to print especially when you add the lack lustre characterisation and overly long sexual sequences it made it feel that the author didn’t put as much effort in as you’d come to expect from better known genre names. If this is a typical example of Gillian’s writing I won’t be reading another one of her releases.

1 comment:

Gillian Bagwell said...

Books wouldn't be very interesting if they were written about the way things ought to be instead of how they were. Nell's life included a lot of hardships, including making her way as a very young girl using what she had - smarts, determination, and her body. I didn't make that up, only filled in the gaps about the specifics.

Sex was one of the few sources of power she had. There are contemporary references to her working at Madam Ross's, as her sister did, and living with a man named Duncan at the age of 12. As she then became a popular comic actress whose frank and likeable sex appeal was a big part of her success, then a mistress, sex was central to her life and story.

In fact, after I wrote the book I realized that in ways it was a meditation on sex - sex for survival, sex as rape, sex as commercial transaction, sex as an expression of love, sex as power, sex for fun and pleasure, sex as part of a long-term relationship. It's all there in Nell's story and in life.

For readers interested in a more thoughtful discussion of the subject of sex in historical fiction, please see Sophie Perinot's recent blog post. http://www.sophieperinot.com/blog/2011/07/25/give-me-a-little-kiss-%E2%80%93-sex-and-the-historical-novelist

And that lack of options hasn't changed since the 17th century in many places. There was a story on CNN on August 2, 2011 about girls in Nell's position in India: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/02/9-girls-rescued-from-red-light-district-in-india

Edit your post:
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Books wouldn't be very interesting if they were written about the way things ought to be instead of how they were. Nell's life included a lot of hardships, including making her way as a very young girl using what she had - smarts, determination, and her body. I didn't make that up, only filled in the gaps about the specifics.

Sex was one of the few sources of power she had. There are contemporary references to her working at Madam Ross's, as her sister did, and living with a man named Duncan at the age of 12. As she then became a popular comic actress whose frank and likeable sex appeal was a big part of her success, then a mistress, sex was central to her life and story.

In fact, after I wrote the book I realized that in ways it was a meditation on sex - sex for survival, sex as rape, sex as commercial transaction, sex as an expression of love, sex as power, sex for fun and pleasure, sex as part of a long-term relationship. It's all there in Nell's story and in life.

For readers interested in a more thoughtful discussion of the subject of sex in historical fiction, please see Sophie Perinot's recent blog post. http://www.sophieperinot.com/blog/2011/07/25/give-me-a-little-kiss-%E2%80%93-sex-and-the-historical-novelist

And that lack of options hasn't changed since the 17th century in many places. There was a story on CNN on August 2, 2011 about girls in Nell's position in India: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/02/9-girls-rescued-from-red-light-district-in-india Guidelines