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The Darling Strumpet Paperback – 4 Aug 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847562507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847562500
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gillian Bagwell's richly detailed historical novels bring to vivid life England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Venus in Winter, based on the first forty years of the life of the formidable four-times widowed dynast Bess of Hardwick, begins with Bess's introduction to the court of Henry VIII just as the king weds Anne of Cleves. Bess quickly learns to navigate the treacherous waters, and survives the turbulent reigns of five Tudor monarchs to become of the most powerful women in the history of England

The Darling Strumpet puts the reader smack in the tumultuous world of seventeenth century London, charting Nell Gwynn's meteoric rise from the grimy slums to triumph as a beloved comic actress, through the cataclysmic years of the last plague epidemic and the Great Fire of 1666, to the licentious court and the arms of the king.

"The King's Mistress" (U.S. title "The September Queen") is the first fictional accounting of the extraordinary real-life adventure of Jane Lane, who risked all to help the young Charles II escape after the disastrous Battle of Worcester in 1651, saving his life and the future of the English monarchy.

Gillian uses her years of experience in theatre an actress, director, and producer to help authors give effective public readings, through workshops and private coaching.

Her life-long fascination with British history and dedication to research infuse her novels with a compelling evocation of time and place, and provide fodder for her non-fiction writing, including articles on "Frost Fairs on the River Thames"
(http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/2011/01/guest-post-giveaway-gillian-bagwell-the-darling-strumpet.html), "The Royal Miracle: The Biggest What-If in English History,"
(http://www.historyinanhour.com/2012/07/14/charles-ii-royal-miracle), and "1660: The Year of the Restoration of Theatre." Gillian blogged her research adventures for The Darling Strumpet (http://www.nellgwynn.blogspot.com) and The September Queen, including the day-by-day events of Charles II's dramatic escape after the Battle of Worcester (http://www.theroyalmiracle.blogspot.com).

Please visit Gillian's website, www.gillianbagwell.com, for more on her books and upcoming events.

Product Description

Review

"[A] richly engaging portrait of the life and times of one of history's most appealing characters!"
Diana Gabaldon
, author of the best-selling Outlander series
 
"Bawdy and poignant ... an ebullient page-turner!"
Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs
 
"Hard to resist this sort of seduction – a Nell Gwynn who pleasures the crowds upon the stages of London and the noblest men of England in their bedrooms. A vivid portrait of an age that makes our own seem prudish, told with verve, humour, pathos... and not a little eroticism."
C.C. Humphreys, Actor and Author of Jack Absolute.
age."

"Now this was the novel about Nell Gwyn I was waiting for!”
The Incurable Blue Stocking

"An absolute triumph as a debut novel.... [It] is an absolutely brilliant addition to the historical fiction genre and might be the best novel on Nell Gwynn ever. …Nell would have applauded in approval and probably done a little jig to celebrate her tribute.”
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner

Five Stars! “Gillian Bagwell’s meticulously researched novel takes us from the cobbled, rubbish-strewn alleys of Covent Garden to the Royal Theatre in Drury Lane and into the royal court. She handles the 17th Century London street vernacular with aplomb….. I can thoroughly recommend this book, and look forward to Miss Bagwell's next foray into 17th Century England.”
Historical Novel Reviews

Five Stars! “….the reader is kept in absolute rapture from start to finish!... I enthusiastically recommend The Darling Strumpet  and if her debut novel is any indication of the fabulousness we can look forward to in future books by Gillian Bagwell then consider me hooked!!”
Passages to the Past

Five Stars Plus! “For …Restoration England lovers this book is a must…. The sky is the limit for Gillian’s future in historical fiction.”
Historically Obsessed

Five Stars! “This book was just all around solid.  The characters were rich and complex, the plot was paced well and the period language felt natural…. I LOVED it…..If you are a Nell fan, or a fan of historical fiction in general, this is a must read, and if you haven't read much his/fic, this book would be a great introduction!”
The Book Buff

 “The atmosphere of Restoration London is beautifully rendered in this richly textured novel. Sedan chairs, frost fairs, hot wassail, changeable silks – the details on every page evoke time and place.... I would definitely recommend The Darling Strumpet to anyone looking for a rich and spicy January read.”
The Misadventures of Moppet

“Written in the vein of Philippa Gregory’s Other Boleyn Girl and Tracy Chevalier’s Lady and the Unicorn…Gillian Bagwell is a masterful writer….  A thrilling and enchanting story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
The Season for Romance

“A beautifully written and lively romp through Restoration England. Gillian Bagwell has captured the very essence of the period with a charm and wit that keeps you turning the pages… Don't you just love it when you find a new favourite author!!!!”
Jaffa Reads Too

“Bagwell’s presentation of a familiar and popular Restoration-era character brings to life the players, wits, wenches, and mistresses who populated the court of King Charles II…. Bagwell provides rich period flavor through dialogue, scene setting, verses, and quotations from plays in which Nell appeared to such acclaim…. A highly readable debut.”
Historical Novel Reviews

 “…as bawdy and engaging as Nell herself was reputed to be. Bagwell’s well-researched novel accurately captures the rowdy, sexy Restoration period…. Romantics will devour this engaging, sexy page-turner.”
Dolce Dolce

“Fans of historical fiction or the Restoration era, or simply desirous of an immersive, fast-paced look into another time, will likely find much to enjoy here.”
Pop Matters

“After this fabulous debut piece of work I cannot wait to see what else Gillian Bagwell has for us historical fiction fans.”
Burton Review

 “I loved it. I sat down and read it in one sitting. Yup. That good. I found myself caught up in the story and just didn't want to put it down…. This is a very enjoyable book on an extraordinary woman.”
Broken Teepee

“Nell claims her place in history and Charles Stuart’s heart, a memorable footnote to an era of flourishing theater and outrageous personalities, ever the people’s darling…. The lusty, good-hearted Nell has secured her place in England’s turbulent past, a destitute girl who wins the undying love of the Restoration king. Bagwell does her story justice.”
Curled Up with a Good Book

“Bagwell delights readers with tales of Nell Gwynn's escapades in historically accurate detail…. Nell would have given Madonna and Lady Gaga a run for their money had they been around back then! The Darling Strumpet is a well-told historical romance that will be enjoyed by Anglophiles and fans of the days of old alike.”
Fresh Fiction

“This is probably not a book I will ever re-read.  I don’t need to . . . I will never forget it…. Gillian Bagwell spent twenty years researching this, her debut book.  The wealth of historical detail makes it obvious that the time was well spent.”
Seductive Musings

Review

Praise for The Darling Strumpet: "Richly engaging portrait of the life and times of one of history's most appealing characters!" -- Diana Gabaldon "Bawdy and poignant ! an ebullient page-turner!" -- Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs "Hard to resist this sort of seduction -- a Nell Gwynn who pleasures the crowds upon the stages of London and the noblest men of England in their bedrooms. A vivid portrait of an age that makes our own seem prudish, told with verve, humour, pathos! and not a little eroticism." -- C.C. Humphreys, Author of Jack Absolute "! an absolute triumph as a debut novel!. The Darling Strumpet is an absolutely brilliant addition to the historical fiction genre and might be the best novel on Nell Gwynn ever!. Nell would have applauded in approval and probably done a little jig to celebrate her tribute." -- Kayla Posney, Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eleni TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting historical novel inspired by the life of Nell Gwynn. The story starts from Nell's childhood and describes her rise to fame as one of the first English actresses and the favorite mistress of King Charles II. The atmosphere of 17th century London is beautiful and the descriptions of the everyday life of the poor as well as the life at Court, during the Restoration are very vivid and well researched. Naturally, as a great part of Nell's fame is associated with the theatre, there are fascinating descriptions of the theatres, references to plays and players and important events of Restoration Theatre. However, more emphases is given on Nell's career as a prostitute than as an actress, which I found disappointing. Graphic sex dominates this otherwise well written novel, which makes sense up to a point, but it is way too much and sadly overshadows everything else. Sex was essential to Nell's survival and success, and although personally I found it too graphic, I understand why the author chose to include it.

Nell is a very likable and well developed character but not very realistic, which is an interesting contradiction. She is well researched and vividly created, but her emotional reactions are not always believable, not even considering the circumstances of her life and upbringing. However, it seems that the author created Nell with love and that makes her a very likable character, which makes up for any shortcomings of this darling fictional strumpet.

The novel is not bad, but my main objection is that there is no mention, either on the description or the actual book, of the extended and sometimes disturbing graphic sex scenes.
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By jaffareadstoo TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nell Gwynne is a ragged ten year old when she watches King Charles II make his triumphant return to London in the Spring of 1660. London is rejoicing following the end of Cromwell's rule and the city is soon to become the debauched centre of Europe. Into this world of prostitution and corruption young Nelly makes her way, first as an orange seller in the flourishing theatres, and then as one of the first female actresses.
Nell is soon a very popular attraction, and as such is the focus of quite raucous male attention, but it is her relationship with King Charles that will alter the course of her life forever.

The book is a beautifully written and lively romp through Restoration England. Gillian Bagwell has captured the very essence of the period with a charm and wit that keeps you turning the pages.
It's saucy and sexually explicit throughout, but overall the humour and the sheer joie de vivre emphasises the utter glory of being alive and young in one of the most glittering of Royal courts.

I loved it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The perfect companion for all history enthusiasts is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Restoration England is not a period that I normally read about but when I was offered the opportunity to review a 2011 release about Nell Gwynn (mistress of Charles II), I decided to give it a shot. I mean, a king with a wife and several mistresses – all at the same time – could be quite interesting, right?

As a young girl, Eleanor “Nell” Gwynn doesn’t have an easy life. Her mother runs a whorehouse and her sister works for another madam and inevitably Nell finds herself deciding to enter the family profession – after selling her virginity to a teenaged boy on the street in order to get money for something to eat. Nell is pretty and charming as well as being a natural born seller and it doesn’t take her long to get herself established and with some regulars.

But being a whore isn’t all she thought it would be and Bagwell doesn’t hesitate in showing the degradation, humiliation and nastiness of the business. Nell is eventually “saved” by one of her regulars but to the still young girl, domestic simplicity is boring and she is soon looking for other ways to occupy her time. From whore, Nell works her way up: she sells oranges at a local theatre, becomes a popular actress, a courtesan, and then, the king’s mistress – all by the time she is eighteen.

Nell’s years with Charles are a stark contrast to her previous life and that difference translated into what I thought was a less interesting story. In the first half of the book, Nell’s life, although harsh, is fascinating.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps my favorite author in this genre is Diana Gabaldon and I am happy to see that she gave this book a positive review. Indeed, Gillian Bagwell has the same knack of providing the right amount of descriptive prose so the reader can really picture the times, without detracting from or slowing down the story.

This book brings to light the role of women in the 17th century in an intimate and revealing way. What is intriguing is that this is accomplished by telling the tale not from the perspective of a member of the privileged class but from the perspective of a woman born to poverty who makes a better life for herself by the only means she sees as an option, becoming a whore and eventually a mistress. Even as mistress to the king, she can never forget where she came from. It is perhaps her connection to the "common" folk that she never loses sight of that makes her so beloved by the people.

There are some explicit scenes where the reader almost feels like a voyeur, but those are integral to understanding what was expected of a woman in those times who was meant solely to satisfy the whim and domination of men. It is touching that out of all this there develops a true love story between Nell Gwynn and King Charles II.

The story centers on Nell and her path from abuse by her mother to abuse as a whore to finally winning respect as an actress only to end up as a kept woman out of the fear that she would lose all she had gained. As an outcome, however, she discovers many different kinds of love.

I enjoy historical novels because I learn something about the times in addition to reading a good story. This book succeeds in meeting my expectations as it integrates events of the times, especially with regard to the evolution of the theatre.
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