Book Review of The Duchess by Susan Holloway Scott

The Duchess

The Duchess

I love good historical fiction.  But writing one is a delicate balance.  Too much history and you might as well read a biography.  Not enough history and it’s basically a romance.  But Scott found a perfect balance with The Duchess.  She did her research well and correctly follows the history of the day without much embroidering for literary merit. Instead of piling on pages of historical background, she skillfully weaves it in between narrative and story line.

I enjoyed this book very much.  She captured the fiery and feminist Sarah Churchill’s temperament and made her character come to life for me.  She skillfully takes us through four different monarchs with colorful details that make the world of Restoration England tangible.

While many know the story of Charles II and the Restoration, then later the ousting of James II by his own daughter, Mary Stuart and her husband the Dutch William of Orange; less is known about Sarah Churchill and her ascent from a penniless child to Duchess of Marlborough and the richest woman in Europe.  Despite her sex and rank, Churchill was able to skillfully maneuver herself and her husband into two of the most coveted spots in England, Captain General of England and Mistress of the Robes.  They also received many other titles, high annual incomes, multiple homes, and honors. As favorite of the Princess Anne, later Queen, Sarah was able to have a voice in the government, though unofficial, in a time when women’s opinions counted for less than nothing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Scott and immediately purchased her next, The Royal Harlot, staring Barbara Castlemaine, another strong minded Restoration woman.  Susan Holloway Scott also writes under the names Isabelle Bradford, and in addition to her books, co-blogs Two Nerdy History Girls along with Loretta Chase.  Check out her books and her blog.  You won’t be disappointed!!