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INTERESTING FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY
on 26 February 2012
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. On the contrary, on the back cover it has a "Content Guide" that includes, "Tear-jerker, Thrills, Drama, Love, Historical, Humor, Friendship", but makes no mention of sex whatsoever. The book is advertised as a historical novel and Nell Gwynn is a very appealing historical figure, so anyone including underaged readers can decide to read it. Clearly, graphic descriptions of things like, the gang rape of a ten year old girl, a lesson instructing Nell how to perform oral sex, or group sex, can be disturbing or even damaging and the readers should be warned what to expect from this, not so innocent, historical romance novel.