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Kathleen Winsor (1919–2003)

Author of Forever Amber

14+ Works 2,021 Members 62 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: from Lifeinlegacy.com

Works by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber (1944) 1,725 copies
Forever Amber: Volume One (1962) 52 copies
Star Money (1950) 51 copies
Calais (1979) 27 copies
Robert and Arabella (1986) 22 copies
Forever Amber: Volume Two (1944) 18 copies
America, with Love (1957) 10 copies
The Lovers (1952) 9 copies
Jacintha (1984) 8 copies
2004 1 copy
Flower Amber 1 copy

Associated Works

Forever Amber [1947 film] (2014) — Original story — 6 copies


(7) 17th century (42) 20th century (9) adult (5) books-i-own (5) British (5) Charles II (36) classic (14) classics (14) ebook (4) England (72) English History (4) erotica (5) fiction (242) goodreads (5) hardcover (8) historical (65) historical fiction (197) historical novel (13) historical romance (28) history (14) Kindle (6) literature (9) London (27) love (5) mistress (12) novel (32) own (15) plague (10) read (20) restoration (26) Restoration England (12) Restoration period (4) Roman (14) romance (95) royalty (15) to-read (164) UK (5) unread (16) women (8)

Common Knowledge

Date of death
Olivia, Minnesota, USA
Place of death
New York, New York, USA
Places of residence
Olivia, Minnesota, USA
Berkeley, California, USA
New York, New York, USA
University of California, Berkeley (1938)
historical novelist
Shaw, Artie (second husband)
Short biography
Kathleen Winsor was born in Olivia, Minnesota and raised in Berkeley, California. She attended the University of California at Berkeley where, at age 17, she married Robert Herwig, a college football star. His senior thesis on King Charles II of England inspired her to read hundreds of books on the subject. She began writing Forever Amber, her first book, in 1940, at the age of 20, and went through numerous drafts of the manuscript. The saga of Amber St. Clare and her romantic adventures in the world of Restoration-era London was nearly 1,000 pages long when it was finally published in 1944. It was an immediate hit with the public and sold 100,000 copies in the first week. It eventually sold more than 3 million copies and was translated into 16 languages. Forever Amber was made into a film directed by Otto Preminger. The runaway bestseller made Kathleen Winsor  a wealthy celebrity. She left Herwig and married big-band leader Artie Shaw. She went on to divorce and remarry twice. Kathleen Winsor continued to write but never recaptured the popularity of her first novel.



Long historical romance, not exactly comparable to GWTW but I can see why people do it. Amber is a horrid character, nothing like Scarlett. In my opinion, the book could've been made shorter by cutting some of the other characters' escapades out.
I didn't see the ending coming....and I was not happy. Someone should undertake writing a sequel to this.
kwskultety | Jul 4, 2023 |
I am always interested in how my adult self reacts differently to books than my adolescent self did. I first read this book when I was about twelve years old and I am surprised none of the adults around me prohibited it. Probably because of my own innocence, I failed to see how very jaded this character actually was. For me then, there was this marvelous love she had for this man who was always just out of reach (I would mistakenly have said through no fault of her own).

What I took away from it this time was quite different. Amber is not a lovely or likable person, and Bruce Carlton is much more callous, but for much better reason, than I had thought. There is much to be said for he never lies to her. But, like her, he is willing to take whatever he wants and damn the consequences.

Toward the end of the novel, there is a passage which says, “But it was not enough, now she had it, to make her happy.” This, I think is the true theme of this novel. Amber is never happy with anything she gets, no prestige, no material wealth, no amount of admiration, nothing is enough for her. I suspect Bruce Carlton would not be enough for her either, but the fact that she cannot have him makes him seem like the ultimate prize. She does not understand him at all, while I think he has her nailed. He knows she is not evil, but he also knows she is amoral and insatiable.

I’ve done some things I hated, but that’s over now and I’m where I want to be. I’m somebody, Almsbury! If I’d stayed in Marygreen and married some lout of a farmer and bred his brats and cooked his food and spun his linen--what would I be?

Therein lies Amber’s problem. She sees nothing of what makes a person great or even good. She has no respect for any achievement that doesn’t show itself in the form of gold and property, and she does not know what happiness is. Her greatest misfortune is the one she knows nothing of: she was born to an aristocrat. Parents who would have married and raised her in exactly the world she desires never got that opportunity because of the civil war and the rise of Cromwell. She believes herself to be common and to have risen above her beginnings. Little does she know, she has in fact sunk far below her station, even when she is the whore of the King.

Finally, this is a very interesting peek into the court of Charles II, the great fire, the plague, the troubles of the restoration, the constant wars with France and the Dutch, and the rise of English imperialism. It is a period for which I have little frame of reference, so I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel.

It is a long read, but it has a fast pace and Amber holds your interest navigating between her husbands and her lover. The most interesting character for me is still Bruce Carlton. He is cut from a different cloth than many of the men of his time, and he is the seed that produced America. I also love the character of Almsbury, who might appear to be minor, but reflects a balance that the other characters lack: he is kind, steady and capable of actually loving Amber, had he ever been given a chance.
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mattorsara | 57 other reviews | Aug 11, 2022 |
A biography following a woman's life during the Restoration period, when Charles II became king of england.
Not all of the story is told from Amber's point of view there are various other characters mostly real people, some of it even from Charles II's viewpoint.
Amber is quite a dislikeable character which is a good thing as it makes her interesting, plus her personality is a creation of the times in which she lived and is necessary for her success in the male dominated time in which the story is set.
There is a BBC documentary call 'Harlots, Heroines and Housewives' talking about the various roles woman had during the Restoration and this book covers all of them.
Its a great historical/romance piece of storytelling and my score for it would be higher if it didn't feel a little disjointed in places due to the multiple points of view. I understand it was edited down from a much larger first draft.
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wreade1872 | 57 other reviews | Nov 28, 2021 |
Forever Amber feels like a case of “don’t judge a book by its cover”… or by its Goodreads rating. Clocking in at 4 stars, this historical fiction about a woman making her way up in the a man’s world seemed like it might be up my alley… Unfortunately, I was mistaken. The protagonist, Amber St. Clare, is an unlikable character with few qualities to recommend her: narcissistic, capricious, and manipulative. She is a Restoration-era Scarlett O’Hara, minus the personal growth. Amber’s naked ambitions and careless actions lead to the deaths of at least five people and the misery of many others. The worst thing about Amber though is that she’s simply not interesting. Having an unlikable protagonist can work if they have some worthy quality to counterbalance their unlikability, whether it be intelligence, charisma, etc. Gillian Flynn, for example, writes fantastic female villains with agency:

“I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains. Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes (as if we had nothing more interesting to war over), not chilly WASP mothers (emotionally distant isn’t necessarily evil), not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either).”

Amber, on the other hand, comes across as the grossly incompetent colleague who somehow managed to fail her way up. Her only redeeming attributes are her looks. While beauty will get you far in the real world, it doesn’t work so well in literature. Even Amber’s resourcefulness is related to her reliance on the men around her. In the last quarter of the book, Amber does something remotely redeemable but too little, too late. Getting through the tomb of a novel (nearly 1000 pages in the Chicago Review Press edition) was a slog, and the one thing that kept me reading was the hope for Amber to either get some character growth or her comeuppance (à la “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”). Suffice to say, Forever Amber was not my cup of tea. Your mileage may vary.
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1 vote
hianbai | 57 other reviews | May 26, 2020 |



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