The Painted Lady Paperback – 19 Aug 2011
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`There is something charmingly old-fashioned about this account of intrigue and romance in Restoration London...This is an undemanding and highly enjoyable account of the court beauty who was allegedly the model for Britannia on the coinage, and who eventually, one is glad to learn, got her man.'
--Literary Review, Joanna Hines
'Maeve Haran presents a vivid picture of life at the royal court - a mixture of courtesy and coarseness, laxity and loyalty - which makes an easy read.' --Leicester Mercury
'It's evocative, colourful and exciting, but while there are lots of heaving bodices, it's a tad restrained on the ripping front.' --Daily Mail, Wendy Holden
'Haran has created a pacy tale of court intrigue , daring and romance set against a time of war, plague and the Great Fire of London....Overall, an entertaining read that should amuse history buffs almost ( but not quite) as much as die-hard romantics.' --Sussex Life, Anne Hill
About the Author
Maeve Haran is an Oxford Law graduate and former television producer. She took up writing after the birth of her second child and combines fiction with journalism and writing short stories. She has three children and lives with her husband in north London.
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Top Customer Reviews
Beautifully descriptive of the restoration period this book brings to life the glittering court of Charles II. The rivalry that existed between the king's mistresses is expertly captured, and yet it's refreshing to read a restoration romance that doesn't involve graphic descriptions of Charles II's sex life !
Charles II, used to getting his own way with women becomes infatuated with Frances who resists his advances who is herself in love with the king's cousin Charles Stuart Duke of Richmond and Lennox,
Her great friend and mentor Mall Villiers stands by her side and the totally malignant and vindictive Lady Barbara Castlemaine will stop at nothing to try and destroy Frances, as Castlemaine is insanely jealous of the king's affections for Frances.
I enjoyed this book.
And because it's peopled almost entirely with real-life characters - the 'painted lady' is Frances Stuart, famous for being just about the only woman at court who refused to sleep with the king - you can use the internet to look up all the Lely portraits as they're mentioned in the book.
I actually found this much more enjoyable than the book itself. All the notorious characters you'd expect are in it, people like Barbara Castlemaine and the Earl of Rochester, and of course there's the plague and the Great Fire of London to cover, too. But despite all these possibilities it never quite comes to life: the characters are drawn far too superficially to get under their skin, so it's hard to care. And what little plot there is - will La Belle Stuart succumb to the king's demands? - is very repetitive, and the hero, Frances's true love the Duke of Richmond, is dull in the extreme.
Unfortunately, it didn't help that I'd re-read Diana Norman's wonderful The Vizard Mask quite recently, which deals with virtually the same period and many of the same characters. It's not my favourite of her books, but when it comes to bringing history to life it's in a different league altogether.
But this was very readable and I'll look for other books from this author.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An enjoyable read bringing the Stuart court to life. I am drawn between celebrating Frances's stand against the King and feeling sorry for him. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jennifer Smith
Not an era likely to excite me but i persevered. Found the plot boring & repetitivePublished on 14 July 2014 by Layla Hughes
What a cracking book! Maeve Haran brings the life and times of Charles II alive. The writing is just so clever that you feel that you are there at court and in London. Read morePublished on 13 Dec. 2013 by Fabia
A highly enjoyable read. Maeve Haran takes you there in a most convincing manner. Looking forward to another historical day out.Published on 28 Jan. 2013 by miriampots