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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant period details, racy writing
This is the second of Fidelis Morgan's 17thC detective novels drawing on her knowledge of Restoration female dramatists, and once again the period flavour and details are great. The plot, on the other hand, is decidedly full of holes - although if you wanted to be charitable you could point out that so are the plots of many female (and male) playwrights of the time, and...
Published on 14 Nov 2001

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2.0 out of 5 stars A seventeenth century romp
This is the second in the Anastasia, Lady Ashby de la Zouche, Countess of Clapham series. Set in London 1699, the Countess, accompanied by her trusty and feisty maid Alpiew, dashes around London on an absurd and farcical murder investigation. They are assisted or hindered by a range of eccentric characters, some of them historical, such as Colley Cibber and a...
Published 1 month ago by Douglas Kemp


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant period details, racy writing, 14 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This is the second of Fidelis Morgan's 17thC detective novels drawing on her knowledge of Restoration female dramatists, and once again the period flavour and details are great. The plot, on the other hand, is decidedly full of holes - although if you wanted to be charitable you could point out that so are the plots of many female (and male) playwrights of the time, and so maybe this is in fact a deliberately contrived device rather than just a lack of heavy editorial control! The only thing I found mildly irritating was the slightly anachronistic name of the main character (Anastasia? Really?) and the dialogue, which wavers between period slang and definitely twenty-first century sloppy. However, notwithstanding all that these novels do have a very definite charm and are infinitely better than most of the third-rate, supposedly 'historical' detective fiction currently swamping the market, and for authentic background details on cosmetics, staging, players and prophylactics against syphilis this really couldn't be beaten. A great, funny comfort read, curled up in front of a fire with a cup of chocolate or a sack posset. I'm looking forward to the next!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild and weird characters, lots of laughs, great twisty plot, 18 Nov 2001
By A Customer
I wondered if Fidelis Morgan could pull it off again - second novels in this genre tend to be pale, sloppy shadows of the first. But The Rival Queens is, if anything, better than Unnatural Fire - think Tarte Noir circa 1699. The author knows her period (The Restoration) inside out and transports the reader there without making it feel like a history lesson or bogging him or her down with attempts at bogus contemporary lingo ('pray fit on ver fofa, firrah, whilft I bethink me what to do' - that fort, sorry, sort of thing). Structure, plot and range of characters are masterful. Ingeniously, the novel is structured around The Passions. Trying out the facial contortions necessary to represent each one is great fun but if you're reading The Rival Queens while travelling by train or bus and decide to get in some practice, be prepared for fellow passengers to edge away to safety. For anybody lusting after an un-put-down-able page-turner full of wild and weird characters, with lots of laughs and a nice twisty plot that'll keep you guessing right till the end, this is it. Can't wait for the next one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Restoration Historical Fiction, 19 Oct 2002
By 
taking a rest - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
"The Rival Queens", is the first work that I have read by Fidelis Morgan whose talents go beyond that of a novelist to being an actress and playwright as well. She also brings to her fiction her writing that documents the true lives of 17th and 18th Century women, and she has also edited the work of others as well. All these accomplishments bring to her writing a great authenticity as she chronicles the mysteries of 18th Century London, the stage, and the players upon it.
It is a fine line between presenting dialogue that is authentic from the 18th Century, and writing so faithfully to every bit of slang then in use so as to make reading a work frustrating to impossible. When I read historical fiction, one of the last burdens I want to have is the constant interruption of language that has become arcane, or footnotes that interrupt the narrative flow. Another failing of some writers is that they take great liberty with the historical figures they place within their fiction. Fidelis Morgan uses Samuel Pepys as a player in her tale, and nothing she portrayed was inconsistent with what I have read of the man.
Her two heroines who are the sleuths are both wonderful, and are a good team while often being the perfect odd couple. This piece has all the drama of hands drenched in blood, blood spouting from public fountains, and bodies that either appear or actually seem to have misplaced some of their parts. The book is fun and entertaining with the author adding enough levity to keep her work from becoming another bloodletting ripper tale. I definitely will be going back to her first work, and I look forward to reading many more
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2.0 out of 5 stars A seventeenth century romp, 26 Oct 2014
By 
Douglas Kemp (Northamptonshire) - See all my reviews
This is the second in the Anastasia, Lady Ashby de la Zouche, Countess of Clapham series. Set in London 1699, the Countess, accompanied by her trusty and feisty maid Alpiew, dashes around London on an absurd and farcical murder investigation. They are assisted or hindered by a range of eccentric characters, some of them historical, such as Colley Cibber and a superannuated Samuel Pepys. The book is intended to be a light-hearted romp, full of zany characters and rollicking humour with the appropriate degree of Restoration bawdy. I have to say I found it profoundly irritating, but this is probably a reflection of my own tastes and other readers may well lap this sort of thing up. The plot has no real structure and the characters lack depth and any degree of credibility. The narrative is a breathless, slapdash affair. The writer displays her obvious knowledge of the period, which can be found in her writing on 17th Century female dramatists, but the overall effect is negated by the characters employing a strange mixture of period language and modern 21st Century slang. The whole effect is frustrating in a relatively lengthy book. If you are looking for nothing more than a novelisation of a pantomime, then this is the book for you. If you require a book with a little more depth, structure and considered writing, then avoid like the Plague of 1665.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "who done it" of the 1700's!, 17 Jun 2012
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Love this author! Love the way she brings in all the history of old England without being boring. London comes alive in the pages of this book in realtime 1700's. An easy book to read but compelling and interesting at the same time. Funny and quirky, something a little different from your usual murder/mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 24 Feb 2013
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Having read previous books form this author I looked forward to another and was not disappointed. Great characters and a lot of fun.
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