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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 October 2008
The King's Touch is the story of Charles II's illegitimate son Jemmy, James Duke of Monmouth. Written in the first person POV, Jemmy recounts his life story from being removed by Charles from his mother's care, through his relationship with his father and his aunt Minnette, Charles' restoration to the English Crown and finally ending at the start of the Monmouth Rebellion at Charles' death. The life and reign of Charles II and the main characters (and Charles' many mistresses) are fairly well known, and not worth rehashing further.

Those looking for an action packed, bawdy romp through the Courts of Charles II should look elsewhere, this is not the book for you - I'd recommend Forever Amber. Yes, we see his mistresses and the intrigues and scandals of the Restoration period, but in lesser degree - even the plague and the great fire of London are almost afterthoughts in the story. As other reviewers have noted, what this book is about is Jemmy and his relationship with his very enigmatic father as Jemmy struggles to come to grips with his illegitimacy as others intrigue to have him declared legitimate and the true heir to the crown.

As stated previously, this is not a fast paced book and one that should be read in small doses so you can sit back and savor them slowly like you would a very decadent truffle or a fine glass of red wine (or both!!). Unfortunately for me, I had this as an interlibrary loan and not renewable and found myself under the gun at the last minute to blow through 500 + pages and I feel it impacted my enjoyment of this a bit. 4/5 stars.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
.. Ok, well, not quite for dummies, as Jude once again displays his overwhelming penmanship in a story that you could almost believe was fiction, but nevertheless is fact.

His portrayal of the time of Charles II is vivid and encapsulating. His illegitimate son, Jemmy, (whom history appears to despise) is given a sympathetic airing, and one can't help but wonder exactly what is the true story.

I adored the book, set in a period I knew nothing about (Jude keeps exposing huge gaps in my knowledge!) and am anxiously awaiting my husband reading it so I can discuss fully!

Jude Morgan brings history to life - he is a marvel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book started off very slowly, and I almost gave up on it, when suddenly it took off like a bullet. When James (or "Jemmy") returns to England in order to be part of Charles II's Court, this novel became a page-turner of the best variety.

Concentrating on my favorite aspect of historical writing - the people, Jude Morgan writes about the complex relationship between Jemmy and his father, the King. The King gives favor upon favor to Jemmy, leading him to believe that he will eventually be acknowledged as Charles' legitimate son. Meanwhile, Jemmy's Uncle James lurks in the background like an evil spectre.

Nobody here is without their flaws. Jemmy is prideful and sometimes arrogant, Charles is inscrutable and mercurial. The two characters who are the most likable are William of Orange and, unsurprisingly, Nell Gwynne.

I came to this novel knowing absolutely nothing about the Restoration or about the Duke of Monmouth. Now I can't wait to learn more. What higher praise can one give?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2007
The author has clearly got the ability to provide all the relevant historical informaion without pages of dull narrative, which makes this book one of those that you can sit down and read for hours at a time and not get bored.

Although something that did slightly annoy me, was that the language is fairly modern, which I can obviously see the reason for but for me personally it just didn't feel right in certain parts of the story.

But as I say that's a personally taste as when I read a historical novel I like it to feel as old as possible, it that makes any sense.

I also found Monmouth (Jemmy) to be a little too sympathetically betrayed, although it's incredibly believeable that his fathers love was always his sole objective and that ambitions for the throne came later - I couldn't completely buy that they came as late as is suggested.

But those are really minor points; this is an engrossing story that is pleasant to read and for those that don't know the history of the period they will learn a lot about this period of excess.

I would really recommend this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this very accurate and well researched historical docu novel . Jude Law does his research in way that puts him on a par with the late genius, Jean Plaidy.
Traces through the first person narrative, the life of James, Duke of Monmouth, out of wedlock son of Charles II. James (known to his family and friends as Jemmy) traces his life from when he was seven living with his impoverished mother Lucy Walter, formerly mistress to the exiled Charles II, in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

It then traces James life at the court of King Charles II after the Restoration , his turbulent relationships with his father the king, this closeness to his adored aunt Henriette of England (Minette) , the king's sister, who died suspected poisoned by her French husband, Prince Phillipe, second son of Louis XIV. Phillipe was not just a homosexual but a hater of women who shows his contempt in his speech with vile remarks about his wife's female anatomy. Flaunting his male lover in front of Minette and as well as physically mistreating her. As well as describing his loveless marriage to Anne Scott, 4th Countess of Buccleuch.

His relationship with his doctrinaire, hard-nosed and redoubtable grandmother the Queen Dowager Henriette Marie of France , his liaison with Barbara Castlemaine, one of the king's most passionate mistresses and his friendship with the amiable and lovely London cockney actress and one of the king's favourite mistresses Nell Gwynn . His closeness to his cousin Mary and friendship William of Orange (later to reign as William and Mary of England) and his enmity with Charles brother James of York (later James II)
Little battle action but does focus a chapter each on the major events of the day, the Plague, the 1666 Great Fire of London and the Wars with the Dutch.
But I like my historical novels to focus on relationships and feeling while educating us about the events.
End Jemmy's first person narration with his exile in the Netherlands-and his making plans to return to England to overthrow his tyrant uncle James II
His subsequent failed Monmouth rebellion and execution are narrated by his great love Henrietta, Baroness Wentworth in the epilogue.
James of Monmouth was a man loved by the people who showed sign he would have made a great king. Certainly better than James II and his descendants would like be a great improvement over the Hanoverian Georges
Very pleasurable and informative reading , brings something to life of the Restoration period.
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This novel presents as a first person biography, written by Jemmy, also known as James Crofts, who became James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. James is the illegitimate son of Charles II, and he writes of his complicated relationship with his father.

James was born in 1649 to Lucy Walter in Rotterdam, the same year as Charles I was executed. His early life with his mother and half sister Mary was marked by poverty and by a succession of men through Lucy's life as she looked for security. Prince Charles removed Jemmy from his mother, and sent him to live with Lord Crofts in Paris. Here, he also spent time with his grandmother, Charles I's widow, Henrietta Maria and with his aunt, Henrietta Anne (`Minette').

In 1660, when Jemmy was 11, Charles II was restored to the English throne. As a consequence, Jemmy's life changed immeasurably. In 1662 Jemmy is brought to England to become part of the court, but he is never able to move past his early hardship and insecurity. Jemmy wants very much to believe his mother's claim that his parents entered into a secret marriage, and eventually to see himself as his father's heir.

In 1663, aged 14, Jemmy was married to Anna Scott, aged 12, the Duchess of Buccleuch. In a very short period of time, Jemmy Crofts becomes James Scott, Duke of Buccleuch and Duke of Monmouth. Having risen so far, Jemmy expects even more and his insecurity makes him vulnerable - especially to those who would seek to exclude Charles II's brother, the Catholic James, Duke of York from the succession.

I enjoyed Jude Morgan's portrayal of Charles II, of his mistresses Nell Gwyn and Barbara Castlemaine, of his queen Catherine of Braganza, and his mother Henrietta Maria. I wished that Monmouth was less impulsive and headstrong, more secure and sensible. Jude Morgan brings the period of the Restoration court to life: with its tragedies (the Plague, the Great Fire of London, the Dutch Wars), excesses (including the many mistresses of Charles II, and secret deals with France. Despite the detailed view given by Jemmy, Charles II remains elusive. Our view of him through Jemmy's eyes is never complete and while Charles is willing to pardon Jemmy, he is never going to appoint him as his heir.

Alas, Jemmy will never be satisfied with anything less.

`It has been said that ill luck is a ship belonging to the Stuart family: always it comes back to them.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 October 2006
... but unlike the other reviewers here I didn't feel that this book ever came to life at all. The central character of Jemmy was so bland and undelineated that seeing everything through his eyes was a major negative.

With such a charismatic and flamboyant figure as Charles II together with the events of his reign, I find it quite difficult to understand how anyone could take those elements and write a dull book but I'm afraid Morgan has managed it. For me this smacks of a re-writing of 'history' with no input of imagination. I picked this up (looking unread) from Oxfam and returned it in almost the same condition a day or so later. Not a recommendation I'm afraid but for very different takes on the same period try Antonia Fraser's historical biography of Charles II; the novel Forever Amber which is a brilliant (if frivolous!) take on Charles' court and erotic intrigues, or the later Dumas novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2013
True Morgan in style and elegance. A powerful, witty read, that brings history to life. I read this in a single sitting.
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