About the Book:
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.
About the Author:
Gillian Bagwell has had a life-long love of books, British history, and theatre, and united these passions in writing her first novel, The Darling Strumpet. She grew up in Berkeley, California, and began her professional life as an actress. She majored in theatre at the University of California at Berkeley, and then attended a year-long British professional acting training program, the Drama Studio London at Berkeley. She moved from acting to directing and producing, founding The Pasadena Shakespeare Company in 1994, and producing thirty-seven productions over nine seasons.
Gillian began researching Nell Gwynn as the subject of one-woman show, but realized that such a brief format couldn’t do justice to the richness of Nell’s life, and started writing The Darling Strumpet while living in London in 2006. Her extensive background in theatre has enabled her to bring vividly to life the theatrical conditions and performances of Nell’s time.
I would first like to say – isn’t that cover AMAZING?! I just love it. Not that a cover necessarily has any bearing on a book but I know if I were in a book store that cover would call me from across the room.
OK – on to the book. I loved it. I sat down and read it in one sitting. Yup. That good. I found myself caught up in the story and just didn’t want to put it down. This was not the first book I have read about Nell Gwynn but this one had more detail regarding her early childhood. Ms. Bagwell has a way with words that draws you into the story so it’s rather like watching a movie in your head. I love when a book does this to me. Nell Gwynn’s story is not always an easy one to read; she rose out of abject poverty to be a whore. She worked with her sister in a brothel and the tales of her working days are not always easy to read.
The Restoration period in English history brought a period of gaiety and excess after the reign of Cromwell. Part of that was the return of the theatre to England and Charles II allowed women on the stage for the first time. This is where Nell was to find her true calling. She was a quick witted woman and I feel a very intelligent woman; she was able to memorize her lines for all of her plays by having them read to her. She was apparently also lethal with a sharp comeback. This endeared her to her public. She had a love affair with her co-star on the stage, Charles Hart and several plays were written specifically for them.
But Nell wanted more. She ultimately caught the eye of the king himself, Charles II. Through the machinations of the Duke of Buckingham (not entirely just for Charles’ erm, benefit) Nell ends up as Charles’ next mistress. The relationship has its ups and downs but the two really do care for each other until Charles’ death.
Ms. Bagwell writes with a strong depth of feeling so that when Nell reaches the latter part of her life and starts to suffer what seems to be a series of unbearable losses you are feeling them with her. The book also contains much of the history of the time but told in a way that you don’t feel like you are in a classroom. It is well woven within the dialog and threads of the tale. This is a very enjoyable book on an extraordinary woman from history.
The Darling Strumpet is available on Amazon.com
Thanks to Ms. Bagwell’s publishing house, Penguin Books, I have one copy of The Darling Strumpet to give away.
How do you win? It’s easy!
But first some rules:
US and Canada only
No PO Boxes
You must be 18 or older
One book per household
Tell me if you have read any other books about Nell Gwynn. Be sure to leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win.
SEE THE EXTRA ENTRIES PAGE FOR ADDITIONAL WAYS TO ENTER.
All entries need to be in by 9PM MST on January 25th when I will go to Random.org to choose the winner. He/she will have 48hrs to respond or I will choose a new winner.
Good luck everyone.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Darling Strumpet gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.