Born into poverty and raised in a brothel, Nell Gwynne sells oranges in the pit at London's King's Theater, newly reopened after the plague and the Great Fire devastated the city. Soon, her quick sense of humor and natural charm get her noticed by those who have the means to make her life easier. But the street-smart Nell knows a woman doesn't get ahead by selling her body. Through talent, charm, intelligence, and sheer determination - as well as a keen understanding of how the world operates - Nell works her way out of the pit and onto the stage to become the leading comedic actress of the day.
Her skills and beauty quickly win the attention of all of London - eventually even catching the eye of King Charles II. Their attraction is as real as it is unlikely, and the scrappy orange girl with the pretty face and the quick wit soon finds herself plunged into the confusing and dangerous world of the court, where she learns there are few she can trust - and many whom she cannot turn her back on.
From the gritty streets of 17th-century London, to the backstage glamour of its theaters, to the glittering court of Charles II, The Perfect Royal Mistress is a love story for the ages, the rags-to-riches tale of a truly remarkable heroine.
©2007 Diane Haeger (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
It is a very good FICTIONAL account of FACTUAL people. I love a good story which successfully captures the local color, customs, and mores surrounding real events in history. The narrator was excellent, which is a big selling point with me.
I have to say that it was Queen Catherine, the wife of the "#1 Baby Daddy", King Charles II. If even 1% of what is written about her in this book is true, she handled her man-whore of a husband's scandalous and adulterous behavior with grace and dignity. That guy had at least 12-14 children by 7 different women - none of whom was the Queen as she was unable to carry a child past the first trimester.
Probably Barbara, Lady Castlemaine because she was such a scheming, greedy, and amoral person. The book tries to give Nell Gwynn a leg up on Lady Castlemaine but the Lady was always one or two steps ahead of that hood rat.
The only reason that I couldn't give this 5 stars is because it lasted about 2 hours too long. The author depicted Nell Gwynn as the only one of Charles' more than two dozen KNOWN mistresses who truly loved Charles. She kept saying that she never ever asked the King for anything yet she called her oldest son by Charles a "bastard" loudly and in public because she wanted her kids given titles like the children of the higher born mistresses. The other women are characterized as money- and status-hungry golddiggers. The story got to the point that the author was "preaching to the choir" about Nell's "unselfish" traits. Then, suddenly, the whole tale began to fall apart. All of the other "baby mamas" were either noble women or part of the gentry class. Nell was a poor gutter-snipe and "actress" of notorious renown, in addition to being a prostitute as early as age 14. Her mother and older sister were also prostitutes, but the author tries to clean them up, even finding a well-heeled military man to marry the sister. That's a hard nut to crack during a time when ancestry and blood ties were very important. The story tries hard to make King Charles out to be a naive shirt-chaser who was taken advantage of by scheming women when all he really wanted to do was give his country a legal heir with his Queen. England was so in debt that Charles was borrowing money from other heads of state. However, he didn't equate the nation's financial problems to all of his women! He was buying them clothing, shoes, jewelry, furs, horses, homes and land, plus ennobling all of his children, particularly the males whom he made into dukes and earls so they could collect the rents and revenues of such shires as Southampton, Sussex, Cleveland, Lichfield, St. Alban's, Richmond, and Lennox!!! That aside, if you like good historical fiction, this is the book for you. Just don't rely on it if you're assigned at school to write about this period or any of the major players of that time! "F-" will be your grade! (Hmmmm.....I wonder if King Charles Spaniels were named so in honor of Charles II because he was such a dog!!!) 😎
Although Nel's story was heart wrenching, it was also totally absorbing. I think this is one of those stories about which can be said that truth is stranger than fiction, a real life Cinderella story. The narration and audio quality were also very well done. Definetly worth the credit.
It is one of my favorites! Any fan of historical fiction should appreciate this book.
I loved Nell Gwynne's spirit.
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