"The Darling Strumpet" Review

"The Darling Strumpet"
 by Gillian Bagwell

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Release Date: Jan 4, 2011

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

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.

My Review:

I've always pictured Nell Gwynne as a vivacious, lovable woman who won over King Charles and the public with her quirkiness, but in this book, I pitied her and felt sorry for her. Nell's sparkling side was talked about, but it wasn't really shown often. Instead I felt her inner sadness for most of the book.
I'm sure this book is historically accurate, but it just didn't fit the image that I already had about Nell.

The tone of the book is really dark and gritty, which isn't really my style. For those who like that type of book, I think you'll find it interesting. Also, I really wasn't prepared for all the sex in this book. The scenes were very sad and sometimes humiliating to Nell. It's not for the faint of heart, like me! 

I really liked Nell's group of theater friends and her time spent as an actress. This was the only part of the book where I felt like Nell was happy. I would have loved to have seen more from her as an actress as well as the other actors.

The part of the book that really stole my heart was Nell's relationship with her on-stage and off-stage love interest, Charles Hart. Hart was such a handsome sweetheart and I question the choices that Nell made regarding him vs. the men with more money and power. She thought she was doing so much better for herself by trading up, but the other men didn't treat her well like Hart did, and while she was with the King, she constantly worried about his other mistresses.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 4/5
Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5 I love the oranges
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: Overall, this book wasn't what I was expecting, but it was well written and will probably appeal to readers who like a darker book. What kept me reading were the theater scenes and the hope for something else to happen with Hart.


  1. Great review Carrie - that cover is gorgeous!

  2. Will definitely make note when I see the book. Kewl review!!

  3. Great review. I think I'll still pick it up one day. So many books about Nell are coming out recently. Is she the new "it" girl?

  4. Thanks for the insightful review! I am looking forward to this book and am interested to see how our reviews compare :)

  5. Great review, but it's sad :( I don¡t usually like dark and gritty. I hadn't actually heard about Nell, though! :) I shall look her up!

  6. Thanks, Karen! I know I love the cover too, the oranges really tie in to when Nell sold oranges.

    Thanks, Redd! Give it a try!

    Thanks, PolishOutlander! I have heard of at least one other book about Nell that I may try!

    Svea, Thanks! Can't wait to read your review too!

    Alex, thanks! You should definitely look up Nell, she's an interesting person to read about!

  7. The 1700th century isn't exactly my fave period in time ...(it's the ugly clothes ;)

  8. Doesn't sound for me but I did love your review :)

  9. Blodeuedd, lol at the ugly clothes!!

    Juju, thanks! I'm not sure you would like this one, you seem to like the happier books like me :)


Thanks so much for your lovely comments!