The King's Favorite
Susan Holloway Scott
NAL, Jul 2008, $14.00
After two decades at the top of her profession Nell Gwynn “never claimed to be a lady”. However, the royal mistress was proud how far she climbed from being a young teen in 1661 London working at Madam Ross’ bawdy house. In 1662 at thirteen she obtains her first “guardian” Mr. Duncan who protects her. A year later, Nell obtains works as an orange seller at the Royal Theater where the recently returned to the throne King Charles Stuart likes what he sees. She goes on stage and soon leaves the theater to perform her greatest and longest running role, two decades at Whitehall; where lying backstabbers invoke the name of God, country and other babble to claim the moral high ground. However, she is the only one who lightens the load of King Charles II.
This is an entertaining raunchy fictionalized memoir that brings alive from an “insider’s” perspective a transformation period in English history as Cromwell is out and the Stuarts are back in. Nell comes across as intelligent and witty as she uses double entendres to get the better of hypocrites who claim to know what is morally best for others (sounds so contemporarily familiar). Genre fans will appreciate the life and times of THE KING’S FAVORITE, as the “DUCHESS” of biographical fiction Susan Holloway Scott provides an insightful seventeenth century tale.