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The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell
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The Darling Strumpet (2011)

by Gillian Bagwell

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This was a very interesting and delving read. I love history, and I love history about English monarchs, it's always so smutty and dramatic. I had never read anything yet about this Nell or Charles the II, that I remember at least, and I was very intrigued to keep reading. Nell seemed to step into the world of the King and court at a time when things were changing. I loved seeing all the players in this book and the addition to women actors as the book progressed. I really loved the dynamic and interaction of the characters to the surrounding world.

I love Nell, she is strong, and she does what she needs to do to survive, and I always respect that in a women. Charles, however, is rather despicable, but he is the King and I guess he gets to do what he wants, as it usually is. I enjoyed this book and I recommend any history lovers out there pick it up. Also recommend if you want a nice, enjoyable, historically smutty, read. ( )
  rosetyper9 | Nov 12, 2015 |
Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King's Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible.

My Thoughts:

What a colourful life did Nell Gywnne lead according to Ms Bagwell, and all of it squeezed into this book.

I found the first part of the book about Nell’s early life very longwinded. There atr lots of very saucy silly sex scenes which a reader will either love or hate. For me it is inkeeping with Nell’s life being as she is portrayed as a whore but I still think maybe just a bit too much sex and not enough story.

The second part of the story where Nell actually meets the King and becomes his mistress I throughly enjoyed but again a little too much bodice ripping. I love to read about king and queens so this section of the book was right up my street. I would have perhaps liked to have seen more of this period of Nell’s life in the book rather than a whole section at the beginning of her early childhood and her time in the theatre.

The last section I felt was rushed and every character had to have an ending. I felt that Ms Bagwell wanted to give the reader an history lesson.

Overall the book was very colourful and lively with a little too much sex. Nell is another person who I like to read about and would have like the book a little better perhaps if there was more feeling from Nell. Perhaps if the story had been told in the first person, Nell’s voice rather than the third.

I would recommend this book and would again read more from Ms Bagwell but perhaps if the book had focused more on Nell’s life with the king rather than trying to fit all her life into one book. ( )
  tina1969 | May 26, 2013 |
I'm not really a big fan of historical fiction anyway.
  Ridley_ | Apr 1, 2013 |
3.5 stars

The book starts with 10 year old Nell trying to fins something to eat and trying to stay clear from her drunken mother. King Charles II is making his return to London and the people are in party mood but Nell is more worried about getting something to eat. She ends up losing her virginity to a boy in exchange for money so she can buy food. She later tries to get more money from a group of boys that doesn’t end up well. Nell’s older sister Rose is working on a brothel and she convinces Madame Ross to take Nell in. There she meets group of actors and becomes fascinated by them. When she gets an opportunity on stage she is delighted. While on stage she catches the eye of the king whom she has met before and is surprised when he remembers her.

Having never read about Nell before I was really interested to read this. I’m still not sure how to feel about this. It wasn’t bad but I think it still kept lacking that something. Can’t say if it’s the book or the fact that I’m not that interested in this time period and don’t know much about it.

I liked Nell: she was nice, likeable girl who was to determined to have better life. But I also felt like she was too nice. All liked her and if they didn’t they were clearly bad. I’m pretty sure she did something unlikable sometime…

I knew it had quite many sex scenes and while I understand that since Nell is a whore I think there didn’t have to be so many of those. And I really didn’t need to read in so many details 10 year old having sex twice (okay there were more guys involved but still) on the day she loses virginity. But I’m also happy that it wasn’t too sanitized because she was after all a whore.

What I really missed was to know how she felt when the queen was accused plotting against the king. The thing was mentioned, Charles flew into rage and that was it. It would have been interesting to read Nell’s thoughts about the matter.

I liked Buckingham and how he and Nell were friends. She didn’t seem to have many friends at court so that was nice. But I’m still wondering if they were friends in real world?
And I liked Charles Hart and he was so adorable. I just wanted to shake Nell and get some sense into her to stay with Hart.

All in all it was enjoyable read and I’m curious to read the author’s next book to see if it goes in the same lines. ( )
  Elysianfield | Mar 30, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"His Majesty saw women on the stage in Frankfurt and thought it a charming innovation"

The Darling Strumpet is the story of a girl who was nothing special but rose to national and historic fame. She's known as one of the first actresses, one of the first women to be given the privilege to play female roles on the boards, but also for winning the love of a number of rich men, including the King of England (Charles II). I liked Nell. She's safely characterised (for such a potentially contentious story); strong and witty and intelligent, she rises above the poverty of her oyster wenching days and the abuse from her mother, she befriends others easily and we only see a negative side when she is jealous of Charles' other mistresses. Looking back, I feel like she wasn't given much depth as a character, but I'm not sure that's fair - I think my problem is that too much time was spent trading on her looks and not enough on her wit and brains. Nell's sister Rose and early suitor Hart are similarly safe, pleasant but uncontroversial characters. Bagwell shows much more vim in writing Rochester, Dorset, Monmouth and other scheming men - they each have their fatal flaws and their difficulties for Nell. In a sense they are presented less as players in her life and more obstacles to be overcome, hindrances in her rise to prominence. What Bagwell did very well was the historical events of the time - the great fire of London, the plague, the return of King Charles II from exile. You always have to wonder how accurate these things are, but they were slotted into the story well and Nell's grief at losing so much of her home town was not something I had expected, but was a nice touch. Similarly her financial insecurity, being wholly dependent on Charles' goodwill, was an eye-opener for me. On the whole, I found this a little bawdy for my liking - too much romping about in bed with noblemen and kings, and not enough time on stage. ( )
  readingwithtea | Aug 4, 2012 |
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Epigraph
She's now the darling strumpet of the crowd,
Forgets her state, and talks to them aloud,
Lays by her greatness and descends to prate
With those 'bove whom she's rais'd by wond'rous fate.

From "A Panegyrick Upon Nelly"

Anonymous, 1681
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my family:
My sisters
Rachel Hope Crossman
and
Jennifer Juliet Walke
My father
Richard Herbold Bagwell
And the memory of my mother
Elizabeth Rosaria Loverde
First words
London - Twenty-Ninth of May, 1660

The sun shone hot and bright in the glorious May sky, and the streets of London were rivers of joyous activity.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Growing up in the bawdy atmosphere of 17th century Covent Garden, Nell Gwynn is little more than a girl when she enters the world of the courtesan. Here she learns the hard way that to be at the mercy of unscrupulous men is no life at all.

With London's theatres flourishing, Nell seizes an opportunity to change her luck and takes a job selling oranges at The King's Playhouse on Drury Lane.

It isn't long before Nell takes centre-stage, and her saucy wit and ambitious temperament soon catch the eye of King Charles II, But can she keep him enthralled when the country's finest ladies are vying for his attentions at court?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425238598, Paperback)

A thrilling debut novel starring one of history's most famous and beloved courtesans.

From London's slums to its bawdy playhouses, The Darling Strumpet transports the reader to the tumultuous world of seventeenth-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II-and becomes one of the century's most famous courtesans.

Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King's Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From London's slums to its bawdy playhouses, "The Darling Strumpet" transports readers to 17th-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II--and becomes one of the century's most famous courtesans.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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