review: Louis the Well-Beloved

louisLouis the Well-Beloved
by Jean Plaidy

First in the French Revolution trilogy, followed by
The Road to Compiegne and Flaunting Extravagant Queen

Louis XV, the Well-Beloved, became the King of France at the age of five, upon the death of his great-grandfather, The Sun King, Louis XIV. Raised by a set of serious-minded tutors, Louis started as a solemn child with much promise, but developed a fierce revulsion to uneasy situations, and so allowed his ministers to rule while he enjoyed pleasurable pursuits. This the people forgave him in his youth, but as the years passed, and his mistresses became more demanding, the songs and pamphlets began and a dissension, the precursor to the French Revolution, started to brew in Paris.

Louis was a charming bridegroom and faithful throughout most of the Queen’s childbearing years, but when she turned him away in exhaustion, courtiers, such as the Duc de Richelieu, took the chance to arrange his amours. The first succession of mistresses were sisters, though each different in personality. His most celebrated paramour, Madame de Pompadour, makes her entrance and continues in the next book. The mood of the people is violently set against certain aspects of the Old Regime, but is not yet at its zenith.

“There should be a road from Versailles to Compiegne which skirts Paris. There shall be such a road.” The story continues with The Road to Compiegne.

There are several back stories related, such as Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender to England’s throne) and his romance with Louis’ second daughter, Anne Henriette. Louis was like George III of England in that he preferred his daughters unmarried, only allowing the eldest of eight to marry. The odd Etiquette of Versailles is described as a character in itself, along with eccentricities of court life. I’ve often wondered why the author didn’t write a novel in the voice of Madame de Pompadour, as she did with Madame du Barry, but as she plays a significant role in this trilogy, perhaps the story was thoroughly covered. Madame du Barry’s story surpasses Louis XV’s and ends during the bloodiest days of the French Revolution.

Book Description for THE ROAD TO COMPIEGNE:

“Wars, riots, religious dissension, the enmity of Parlement, the intrigues of the Dauphin, and the hunger of his people left Louis XV unmoved.

No longer the Well-Beloved, he ignored the dangers facing France, seeking refuge from any unpleasantness in extravagance, folly and undisguised sensuality.

After the death of Madame de Pompadour, a succession of lovely girls brought Louis temporary forgetfulness, until the voluptuous du Barry made the King once again feel young and in love…”

The Italian Woman, Author’s Note

italianwomanThe middle book of Jean Plaidy’s Catherine de’ Medici trilogy, The Italian Woman was first published in 1953. Below is the author’s note on the subject:

“In The Italian Woman I have endeavoured to portray Catherine de’ Medici in the middle stages of her career, when she was no longer the neglected wife and the most humiliated of all the Queens of France, but the powerful mother of kings. At this stage Catherine was not yet the infamous woman she was to become towards the end of her life, but she was already beginning to show definite signs of that ruthless monster.

To a certain extent much of her life must remain a mystery, for no amount of research can tell us whether or not she actually committed all the crimes which have been laid at her door. In this respect the novelist is in a more delicate position than the biographer, for the latter can present a theory as a theory, while the novelist must make up her mind one way or another, since the object of a novel–a work of fiction–is to create an illusion of reality; and the novelist must naturally be in no doubt as to her characters’ motives and actions.

In view of Catherine’s character as it gradually emerged through acts which undoubtedly she did commit, and through views expressed in her own letters and in the reports of her contemporaries, I do not think that, in The Italian Woman, I have been unfair to her. There was no doubt that she was a callous murderess; and even those judges who are clearly biased in her favour have never attempted to exonerate her from responsibility for–for instance–the murders of Coligny and Lignerolles; nor has it been possible to excuse the part she played in that most horrible of crimes–the mass murders of the St Bartholomew.

It has become the fashion among modern historians to frown on the most colourful passages of history. We are told that Francis, the Dauphin, died not of poison, but of pleurisy, and that Jeanne of Navarre died of consumption and not through wearing gloves supplied by Catherine’s poisoner-in-chief. And yet, Catherine was obsessed by her longing for power; and Francis did die after drinking from a cup presented by his Italian cupbearer who had come over in Catherine’s suite; and by Francis’ death Catherine was immediately Dauphiness of France, later to be Queen. As for Jeanne, she did die rather suddenly and mysteriously when she was away from home, and she became violently ill after visiting the sinister little shop on the quay opposite the Louvre. Her death did occur after she had signed her son’s marriage contract, to so which Catherine had lured her to the court; and it must be admitted that her end came speedily after she had served Catherine’s purpose. Moreover, it cannot be denied that Catherine was a murderess.

I have studied various opinions–those of her friends and her enemies–including the Catholic and the Protestant point of view, for it is a fact that the religious controversies of her day still echo about Catherine.”

Mistress of Mellyn in Ladies Home Journal, April 1960

LHJBefore the age of the internet, how did a new author market his or her novel? One popular method was to publish segments in women’s magazines (called “serials”), and it happens that the very first Victoria Holt novel was published in the April 1960 issue of Ladies Home Journal. The magazine, pictured here beside my paperback version for size comparison, is much larger than today’s magazines. Other than a vague few lines on the index page, it is entirely story and nothing at all on the author. In fact, the pseudonym Victoria Holt was at first kept a great secret.

“From the author of our new serial, The Mistress of Mellyn, beginning on page 44: “It is essential that I hide my identity under the pseudonym, Victoria Holt, for reasons I cannot at present disclose. My husband and I live in London, with Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park just across the road. I have tried to write a story which will excite readers as much as it excited me.”


The story has a full page image of the book cover, and spans over 20 pages, mostly in half or quarter pages with the rest covered in various ads.


In another magazine article published shortly after the author’s death–Book and Magazine Collector No. 109–it is said that Eleanor Hibbert had published short stories anonymously or under unknown pen names in Daily Mail and Evening News, and possibly other publications and magazines.

Myself My Enemy or Loyal in Love

myselfmyenemyloyalinloveWhen Jean Plaidy’s novel on Henrietta Maria, wife of England’s Charles I, was republished by Three Rivers Press/Crown in 2007, they chose to omit the author’s foreword. I’m posting it here for those of you who have this edition and are interested in Plaidy’s thoughts on the subject. It reads more like a personalized jacket description than her opinion on a controversial topic, as is usual when she includes an author’s note. But I do see where they found their new title.

“This is the story of a tragic queen told as though by herself during what is undoubtedly the most turbulent period of English history.

Henrietta Maria’s father was murdered a few months after her birth and she grew up in a court of intrigue which was constantly on the verge of conflict until the arrival of the future King of England on a romantic visit to Spain.

Eventually Henrietta Maria herself was betrothed and embarked on the stormy years of a marriage which seemed doomed to failure overshadowed as it was by the malevolent Buckingham.

But out of these tempestuous beginnings grew one of the greatest love stories of all times and Henrietta Maria fiercely loyal in love, impetuously ruthless in hatred, stood beside her husband through his tragic progress. This is an account of a most successful yet disastrous marriage between a man of honour determined to do his duty as he saw it, and a woman entirely devoted to helping him. Blindly they blundered through the years, watching the fall of Strafford and the rise of men such as Cromwell, Hampden and Pym, unaware even of the spies in their own household; and so came the inevitable march towards ware, Englishman against Englishman, Cavalier against Roundhead, the sequel of which was played out on a cold January day in Whitehall.

At the centre of the disaster stand the King with his unswerving belief in the Divine Right of Kings and his Queen, warmhearted, passionate Henrietta Maria who was her own greatest enemy and that of those whom she loved best.

There is that other Charles, witty, calm, inscrutable refusing to be influenced by his mother, coming back to claim his rights; there are Mary, James, Henry and Henriette all determined to go their own way; and so Henrietta Maria must retire to the chateau of Colombes, a lonely doubting woman to brood on the past and ask herself How much was I to blame?”







Eleanor Hibbert: Letter about Jane Shore in The Goldsmith’s Wife by Jean Plaidy

letter3**This was originally posted on my other website ( on 2/6/2013.**

Just days after the announcement that confirmed Richard III’s remains were found, I received this correspondence (purchased from a document seller on eBay) between Eleanor Hibbert (Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Ellalice Tate, Anna Percival) and a reader from the University of Illinois English Department on Jane Shore, and along with her a mention of “the enigmatical Richard III”.

This prompted me to compare my 1950 edition of The Goldsmith’s Wife with my 1979 edition, in which an Author’s Note had been added. Did this inquiry have anything to do with the curious addition to later printings? Re-reading the Author’s Note, it does not seem as though she had added any further thoughts relating to Mr. Harner’s questioning, though you can read it at the end of this post. It does, however, have much to do with Shakespeare’s version of Richard III, which is so much in the news right now.

The letter from Hibbert is typed on a thin pre-folded page that is made to seal and mail, and has a stamp with Queen Elizabeth II’s image and “Ninepence Postage”. There is one inserted word in ink and several places where a letter or part of a word were erased and typed over. I think this shows that while Hibbert was a perfectionist with her writing, she was more lax (though not sloppy or lazy) on personal correspondence, most likely due to the time restraints from her writing career. It is said that she answered all fan mail personally and did not employ a secretary.


The address, Hibbert’s penthouse opposite Hyde Park, is at Albert Court, Kensington Gore. Having never been to England, I am only able to visualize via maps and images online, but it looks to have been a building next to the Royal Albert Hall.

I am very surprised by Hibbert’s final words: “As for reviews, my books are rarely reviewed, particularly nowadays.” However, reviews in 1970 (at the time of this letter) were in the form of newspapers, periodicals and probably fan letters. Had she lived to see the age of the Internet, she would find generations of readers who still adore her and newly made fans every day, and a plethora of reviews.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the author’s life as much as I have!


Dear Mrs. Hibbert,

I am presently at work on a study of the use of the Jane Shore theme in literature. A few days ago I came across a copy of your Goldsmith’s Wife which makes use of the legend; before this I had thought that the two books (one by Paget, the other by Thompson) which appeared in the 1930’s were the most recent treatment.

One chapter of my thesis will concern the appeal (in general terms) of the legend. Would it be too much of an imposition to ask how you became interested in writing about Jane Shore? I am particularly interested in what prompted you to write the book (whether it be a literacy source or whatever).

Also, I would be interested in reader reactions (perhaps in the form of letters to you about the book) to your treatment. I have not yet searched for reviews of the book—most of my research is still confined to the sixteenth century treatments.

I realize that I am imposing on your privacy, and I apologize. However, any information that you might find time to communicate would be gratefully appreciated.

James L. Harner


Dear Mr Harner,

In answer to your queries about my book THE GOLDSMITH’S Wife I have always been interested in Jane, the only child of a mercer of Cheapside London, who not only became the mistress of a profligate king but kept her position until his death. She seemed an excellent subject for a book, and so I investigated and became more and more interested. It was not only Jane of course but the period itself which is so fascinating as she was surrounded by such significant figures. There is Edward himself; the affair of the princes in the Tower and the enigmatical Richard III.

I notice you refer to the ‘legend’. I wouldn’t call it that. There seems ample evidence that Jane actually lived; and she is listed in the Dictionary of National Biography.

I have now published about 45 historical novels and I get a constant stream of letters from readers. I don’t think this book has been singled out from the rest. As for reviews, my books are rarely reviewed, particularly nowadays.

I hope this information is of use to you.

Eleanor Hibbert




The Goldsmith’s Wife

by Jean Plaidy

Jane Shore, notorious mistress of King Edward IV, is a refreshingly honest person. She is a beauty and knows her charms, but she is also very moral, but not overly religious. She always wants to do what she feels is right and stands by her convictions even at her own peril.

Jane unwillingly enters a marriage with one of her merchant father’s connections, a goldsmith named William Shore. She wanted to marry for love, but found being a young, wealthy and beautiful woman attracted too much attention from men who wanted other than honorable marriage. Running from a particular stalker, she thought she would be safe with a ring on her finger.

Marriage to Will was nothing like her romantic dreams and she found herself susceptible to the charms of other men. She soon came to the notice of the King and against her better judgment moved to court to play the role of favorite mistress. Never asking for anything for herself, she used her influence for the good of others and became a fast favorite of the people. She was even on friendly terms with the Queen, who was grateful King Edward had such a selfless mistress who didn’t get involved in politics or empty the royal coffers.

Near the end the story turns from Jane’s unfortunate fall from grace to the story of the Princes in the tower. I’ve read so many takes on this particular part of history and didn’t think I would be surprised, but Plaidy actually had a little spin on the conspiracy that I haven’t read before. It also seems very plausible.

I enjoyed Jane’s ending (as an old woman), even though it is different from what I’ve read before. Even Wikipedia has her ending her days with Thomas Lynom and the birth of a daughter. A book I read earlier this year, Figures in Silk, also had her marry Lynom and have a child. I do wonder why Jean Plaidy decided to write the story a bit differently, but I am not unhappy with the ending she created. It seemed to compliment the personality that she gave to Jane.

I really enjoyed this book very much and now count it as one of my favorite Plaidy novels.


“It is unfortunate that Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, with its misstatements and distortions and exaggerated character-drawing of the central figure, should be generally accepted as history. But such is the case, so that if Richard is written about from any other angle an explanation seems advisable.

Handicapped as he was by living under Tudor rule, Shakespeare naturally dared not contradict the historians of the day, whose concern it was to vilify Richard in order to applaud the Tudor usurpation, and in so doing lay the blame for the foulest crimes of the period upon Richard.

Since the Tudors guiltily destroyed any state papers which might confound their falsehoods, it is not easy to discover the truth of what happened during Richard’s brief reign. The evidence obtainable has been sifted and analyzed, and I am sure that the fair-minded will agree that the picture of Richard as presented in The Goldsmith’s Wife is a balanced one.

As for Jane’s discovery of Anne Neville, that is entirely fictional. How Richard discovered his future wife is a mystery; but, taking into consideration Jane’s adventurous and warm-hearted nature, together with the fact that, owing to her upbringing in Cheapside, it is more likely that she, rather than any other at court, would have been in touch with the humbler citizens of London, my theory of Anne’s rescue seems plausible.“

Daughters of England by Philippa Carr: the final book penned before the author’s death

Today, on the 21st anniversary of Eleanor Hibbert’s death, we take a closer look at the book she was supposedly in the midst of writing–and may have even passed without finishing.

daughtersofenglandebookDaughters of England
Book # 20

My Synopsis:

This is the story of a mother and daughter living in the volatile times of the late 17th century in England.

Sarah had a puritan upbringing during Oliver Cromwell’s decade of governance, and when Charles II takes the throne she is introduced to an actress who is visiting the manor where her parents are employed. One small role leads her London, and eventually she is installed at Drury Lane. There she meets Lord Rosslyn, who deceives her into giving up her virtue.

Kate is raised by her mother, but eventually travels to her father’s ancestral home in Somerset, where she discovers many things about the man who had always been as a stranger to her. Weaving in and out of the storyline is the political unrest brewing in the country due to religion and the succession. Upon the Duke of Monmouth’s uprising, the events extend a blow to Kate’s personal circle of family and friends.

From the 1995 American Hardcover edition:

“Copyright 1995 by Mark Hamilton as Literary Executor for the Estate of the late E. A. B. Hibbert”

This 13 chapter, 308 page book is the final book produced under the pseudonym Philippa Carr and one of three posthumously published, the others being The Rose Without a Thorn (changed from Kisses of Death) by Jean Plaidy, 1993 and The Black Opal by Victoria Holt, 1993. I have read Plaidy’s novel on Katherine Howard and believe it to be entirely written by the author. Daughters of England, on the other hand, has given me some doubts.

The first thing that struck me is that this book, marketed as the 20th in a series, has broken the flow in both characters and setting. The first Carr—Miracle at St. Bruno’s—is set in Reformation England and lends its characters’ descendants to each book after. Each book presents a new generation, set around the great events that end with the 19th book—We’ll Meet Again—during WWII. Why, then, does the presumably next in the series travel back to Restoration England with completely unattached characters?

The next thing I noticed is the title is off and seems to have no meaning to the story. Any Plaidy fan will know that her titles were chosen with specific meaning (excepting the “new” titles being republished in the past few years—obviously not of her choosing). “Daughters of England” … the two women in this book were not royal or noblewomen. Their nationality was never called upon to distinguish them, since they never left England. I cannot think why this book was given the name of Philippa Carr’s entire saga when its contents have nothing to do with the other books.

Finally, after realizing this book was published two years after the author’s death, I began to ponder the possibility that perhaps it was left unfinished. I dragged through the last quarter of the book looking for the author’s signature wording and sentence structure. While I couldn’t pinpoint any specific part where the book seemed to veer from the writing style, the ending was very abrupt with 3 years tidied up into two and one half pages. There was no suspense leading up to or genuine closure with the ending. In fact, the supposed antagonist, if you read the jacket synopsis, is not really too bad throughout the story. This, I feel, is another mistake made when presenting the author’s final work to her fans. The history and political intrigue within its pages make this book more than just a story about love and deceit.

I strongly feel that the author would have recommended this book to be published under the pseudonym Jean Plaidy and titled differently. However, at the time being, I am at a disadvantage as I have not read any other Carr novels in which to compare with this one. The synopsis and character list for each book is listed here. I’ve been told that they need not be read in order to enjoy them.

In conclusion, I can’t say for certain if my theory is true, but offers another tidbit to ponder on the author’s well-guarded personal life.

review: The Prince and the Quakeress

princequakeressThe Prince and the Quakeress

Fourth Book in the Georgian Saga

by Jean Plaidy

This is the story of the young George III, when he was not yet considered significant—only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Frederick, and grandson of King George II. If you’re not familiar with England’s King Georges’, you may find parts of the story hard to follow, as it alludes to characters from the previous books in the Georgian series, Queen in Waiting and Caroline the Queen.

Old King George II is in his winter years, bad tempered and constantly lamenting his deceased wife, Queen Caroline, whom he reveres more in death than he did in life. At the forefront is Frederick, Prince of Wales, his wife Augusta, and their “good friend” Lord Bute, a Scottish peer who sees his way up with this particular friendship.

Young George is malleable, honest and earnestly wishes to do well by his people. Lord Bute takes him under his wing, and begins to implant his designs in the young Prince, which are not considerably harmful to England, but are against the foreign policy and empire expansion ideas of the leading man, William Pitt. As the story plays out politically, these events are touched on, while George’s love life is more closely focused on.

George’s loves include an extended affair with a beautiful Quaker girl, a flirtation with a silly society belle (and descendant of Charles II through his mistress, Louise de Kerouaille), and a proposed marriage with the German Princess his mother chose for him. As these three relationships form and shift, George’s own personality changes gradually, and by the end of the book he seems a great protagonist and ready to become an ideal King of England.

I found the mystery of the Quaker girl, as explained in the author’s note, to be one of the most interesting facets of the story, and a satisfying explanation as to the later depiction of George in the next in the series, The Third George.

“The story of George III and Hannah Lightfoot is admittedly one of the mysteries of history. No one can be absolutely certain of what took place. There are even some who declare that Hannah Lightfoot never existed. There is, in my opinion, too much evidence from various directions for this to be likely. I believe that Hannah Lightfoot not only lived but was the mistress of George III, as Prince of Wales. There is even a report that Queen Charlotte at one time believed that the King had made a previous marriage and insisted that a second marriage ceremony should take place between her and the King, and that this was done ‘under the colour of an evening’s entertainment’. There is also the Reynolds portrait at Knole. I have based my findings on the available evidence and the character of the King; and I think my version has a good chance of being the true one as any other. J.P.”

With Plaidy’s signature style of including back stories on the supporting characters, this is one of her more intriguing novels. The Quaker mystery has a romantic suspense feel–very much like the author’s Victoria Holt titles. I greatly enjoyed this look at one of my favorite eras!

A birthday remembrance: September 1st, 1906

onthenightoftheseventhmoonToday marks Eleanor Hibbert’s 107th birthday, and I’m giving away a copy of On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt. To enter, you’ll need to visit the Royal Intrigue Facebook Page and comment on the post. I have a paperback copy for a US resident, or a Kindle version for anyone wishing to enter. The giveaway ends September 7, 2013 and will be announced on the Facebook Page. Good luck!

This year I have been attempting to read one book per month by Hibbert, and while I haven’t quite kept up, I have read a great mix of the pseudonyms: Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt, Alexa by Eleanor Burford, The Young Elizabeth, The Young Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Jezebel, Meg Roper, and (started) The Lion of Justice by Jean Plaidy — and plan to read Saint or Sinner? by Eleanor Burford, Such Bitter Business by Elbur Ford, another Holt novel, and finally begin the Carr series!

I have many, many more years of reading Eleanor Hibbert’s entire works ahead of me–her contribution to readers of historical fiction is priceless. In remembering her on her birthday, along with the giveaway, I am re-posting the most complete author bio (for those who have not read it), printed on the Book-of-the-Month editions. Enjoy!

Born in London in 1906, Eleanor Hibbert was the unusually reclusive “real person” behind three of the most popular pseudonymous authors of our time–Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, and Philippa Carr. The Identity of Victoria Holt was such a well-kept secret, for instance, that many readers assumed she was Daphne du Maurier. If Hibbert herself was little known, her work was well loved: she wrote some 200 books that have sold 100 million copies worldwide.

Hibbert began writing in her teens and in her early twenties married a man deeply supportive of her career. History was her first love, and her well-researched historical novels, published under the name Jean Plaidy, brought Hibbert her first devoted readers. In England, some of the Plaidy books became required reading in history classes.

Best-seller status came in 1960 with Hibbert’s first romantic suspense novel, Mistress of Mellyn. An effort to recreate the atmosphere of Jane Eyre, it marked a new direction for the novelist, who signed the book Victoria Holt. Philippa Carr did not have her debut until 1972, with The Miracle at St. Bruno’s, in which Hibbert sought to mingle history and fiction in a new way, bu focusing on the life of a family caught up in famous historical events.

Hibbert shunned publicity, dedicating most of her time to the writing she loved. She wrote in a penthouse overlooking Hyde Park in London. She also owned a thirteenth-century home, King’s Lodging, where both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I once were guests. Considering the success of her work, Hibbert’s lifestyle was modest, and she reportedly paid 98 percent of her income to the British government in taxes.

Though critics tended to ignore Hibbert’s work, a number were impressed by her skill. One New York Times reviewer, after reading a Victoria Holt book that he did not consider as strong as her others, still found himself captivated. “It’s hard to say objectively, just why…this is so intensely readable and enjoyable.” he wrote. “But somehow the magic…is still there.”

Hibbert was untroubled by the prolific pace she set for herself. “Writing excites me,” she said, “It’s the most stimulating thing I can do. I live all my characters and I never have any trouble thinking of plots or how people would have said something or other because I’m them when I’m writing. I’m not me at all.”

Hibbert died in January 1993.

Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord

First published in 1957, Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord is the third in Jean Plaidy’s Charles II trilogy, which can also be purchased in an omnibus edition titled Charles II or The Loves of Charles II. The phrase “Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord” is from a satirical poem by Lord Rochester and was nailed to King Charles’s bedroom door.

‘Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King,
Whose word no man relies on;
He never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one.’
Thus wrote Rochester. The King, amused, replied:
‘The matter is easily accounted for–my discourse is my own, my actions are my ministry’s.’

herelies1Description from the 1973 Putnum edition:

“Remembering his exile and determined not to go “traveling again,” Charles II hid his secret political game with Louis Quatorze under a cloak of gay immorality. His objects were to keep religious strife and revolution away from his country and the crown on his own head.

Of the women who ministered to his pleasure at this period, three were more important to him than others: Nell Gwyn–the orange girl who graduated to actress and King’s mistress; Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, sent by Louis into England to act as his spy; and Hortense Mancini, the “most beautiful woman in the world,” who came to escape a mad husband obsessed by “purity.” Each is here vividly recreated–and with them the famous courtiers, Buckingham, Rochester, and Charles Sackville and the Dukes of York and Monmouth.

But above all, the story is dominated by the King–often careless, rarely malicious, but forever amorous.”

Description from the 1971 Pan edition:

“Charles II, determined his people shall know peace and religious freedom, intrigues with Louis XIV for the money that will keep him independent of Parliament and dispel the shadows cast over the throne by his son Monmouth and his own brother, the Duke of York.

When politics tire the Merry Monarch, there are always women ready to please him, and the King’s passionate nature finds full rein in pretty, witty Nell Gwyn; the babyish good looks of Louise de Keroualle; and the languid beauty of violet-eyed Hortense Mancini…”

Author’s Note

“It is so generally believed that Charles died a Catholic that I feel I must explain why I do not hold that belief. The deathbed scene has always worried me a great deal because I have felt it to be out of line with Charles’ character. Therefore I was anxious to find a convincing explanation.

It is true that Father Huddleston came to him on the night before he died, and that Charles made no protest when it was suggested that he be received into the Catholic Church; but when all the facts are considered I think there is a viewpoint, other than the accepted one, which serves to explain this acquiescence.

On that Sunday, the 1st of February, 1685, he ate little all day; he passed a restless night and next morning, while he was being shaved, fell down ‘all of a sudden in a fit like apoplexy’. He never fully recovered, although he had periods of consciousness during the next five days which were spent in great pain aggravated by the attention of his physicians who, not knowing what remedies to use, applied most of those which they had ever heard. During those five days, hot irons were applied to the King’s head, pans of hot coals to all parts of his body, and warm cupping glasses to his shoulders while he was bled. Emetics, clysters, purgatives, blistering agents, foul-tasting drugs, and even distillations from human skulls, were given to him–not once but continually. Spirit of sal ammoniac was put under his nose that he might have vigorous sneezing fits, and when he slipped into unconsciousness cauteries were applied to revive him. So in addition to the pain of his illness he had these tortures to endure.

He knew that he was dying on the Monday, yet he made no effort to see a priest. When Bishop Ken begged him to receive the rites of the Church of England he turned away; but this was a natural gesture, for he was suffering great pain and discomfort, and he had never been a religious man. All though Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday he had been, as he said, ‘a unconscionable time a-dying’, and on Thursday night the Duke of York and the Duchess of Portsmouth (who both had their reasons) brought Huddleston to his bedside; and at this late hour, according to those few people who were present, Charles joyfully received Huddleston’s ministrations.

I believe that Charles was too ill to resist the importunings of his brother and his mistress. I believe that in that easygoing manner which had characterized his entire life he gave way as he had so often before. That is if, after four days of acute agony, discomfort, and intermittent unconsciousness, he was even aware of what he was doing.

According to Burnet, Ken pronounced the absolution of his sins over the King’s bed, and in his last hours Charles said that he hoped he should climb to Heaven’s gate; ‘which’, goes on Burnet, ‘is the only word savouring of religion that he was heard to speak’.

Charles’ attitude to religion had always been constant. He had modelled himself on his maternal grandfather, Henri Quatre, who had ended religious strife in France when he changed from Huguenot to Catholic, declaring that Paris was worth a Mass. Charles believed that religious toleration was the way to peace. He was tolerant to Catholics, not because he was a Catholic, but because they were being persecuted. He has said of Presbyterianism, ”Tis no religion for gentlemen.’ This was during his stay in Scotland when he had been forced to hear long prayers and sermons every day, and repent of so many sins that he said: ‘I think I must repent that I was ever born.’ He had declared: ‘I want every man to live under his own vine and figtree.’ But this did not mean he was a Catholic.

His attitude to the Church was often frivolous. He had in his youth been hit on the head by his father for smiling at the ladies in church; and as Cunningham says, ‘he had learned to look upon the clergy as a body of men who had compounded a religion for their own advantage’.

To his sister Henriette he wrote: ‘ We have the same disease of sermons that you complain of. But I hope you have the same convenience that the rest of the family has, of sleeping most of the time, which is a great ease to those who are bound to hear them.’ He greatly regretted that he had not been awake to hear delivered to Lauderdale a reproof from the pulpit: ‘My lord, my lord, you snore so loud you will wake the King.’ Burnet, who was a large and vehement man, and once when preaching thumped pulpit cushion crying: ‘Who dares deny it?’ to which Charles answered audibly: ‘Nobody within reach of that devilish great fist.’

It was Charles’ belief that God would never damn a man for a little irregular pleasure; and he had declared his conviction that the greatest sins were malice and unkindness. Such a man would, in my opinion, never ‘play safe’ at the eleventh hour. He had borne great pain with immense courage and patience which astonished all who beheld it. He was not afraid of death. If he believed that malice and unkindness were the greatest sins he must also have believed that he had sinned less than most men of his age.”










Philippa Carr on Kindle

The Miracle at St. Bruno’s
The Daughters of England, book 1 of 19
by Philippa Carr

The first book in Philippa Carr’s celebrated Daughters of England series is at once a love story, a mystery, and an epic historical saga set during the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII

Damask Farland, named after a rose, is captivated by the mysterious orphan Bruno. Discovered upon the abbey altar on Christmas morning, then raised by monks, Bruno becomes the great man whom Damask grows to love—only to be shattered by his cruel betrayal.

This dramatic coming-of-age novel is set in sixteenth-century England, during the chaotic years when Henry VIII stunned the royal court by setting his sights on Anne Boleyn. It’s also the tale of a man whom many believed to be a holy prophet . . . until a shocking truth is unearthed in the shadows of a centuries-old abbey.

The Lion Triumphant
The Daughters of England, book 2 of 19
by Philippa Carr

Played out against the seething rivalry between Inquisition-torn Spain and Elizabethan England, The Lion Triumphant traces the linked fates of strong-willed Catherine Farland and Captain Jake Pennlyon

Called “The Lion,” Captain Jake Pennlyon is a fearsome and virile plunderer who takes what he wants, and his sights are set on Catherine Farland. Blackmailed into wedlock and haunted by memories of the gentle boy she was forbidden to wed, Cat vows to escape. Fate intervenes when she’s taken prisoner aboard a Spanish galleon . . . unaware that she’s a pawn in one man’s long-awaited revenge.

Beginning as Elizabeth takes the throne of England, and spanning the years until the legendary defeat of the Spanish Armada, The Lion Triumphant follows Cat’s journey from the thrill of a first passion to the ferocity of a mother’s love. Despite the twists of history, her fortunes—and her heart—will remain tied to one seductive buccaneer.

The Witch from the Sea
The Daughters of England, book 3 of 19
by Philippa Carr

A reluctant bride has just begun to love her volatile husband when she rescues a mysterious woman who will bring terrible danger to them all

Linnet Pennlyon, proud daughter of a sea captain, finds herself in a vicious trap: Pregnancy has forced her to marry the cunning Squire Colum Casvellyn. Once their baby is born, she devotes herself to their son. Yet, little by little, against her will, Linnet finds herself drawn to her passionate, mercurial husband. Dark secrets lurk in their castle: The squire’s first wife died amid rumors of foul play. When a beautiful stranger washes up on the shore, Linnet suddenly finds she’s no longer in control of her family—or her life.

It falls to Linnet’s daughter, Tamsyn, to uncover the truth about a long-ago night . . . and put to rest the rumors about her beloved mother. Her discovery sets in motion an unstoppable chain of events that will reverberate for decades to come.

Saraband for Two Sisters
The Daughters of England, book 4 of 19
by Philippa Carr

The twin daughters of Tamsyn Pennlyon take very different paths—only to reunite in a firestorm of explosive secrets and illicit passions that threaten to divide them forever

Twins Angelet and Bersaba Landor may look alike, but their personalities couldn’t be more different. Angelet is sweet, gentle, and submissive, while Bersaba is secretive, sensual, and headstrong. When the sisters are separated by forces beyond their control, Bersaba finds her life taking a dark turn.

After years apart, the twins are reunited within the echoing halls of Far Flamstead.As Angelet finds herself at the mercy of the manor’s secret past, Bersaba gives in to a perilous temptation. Bersaba will risk everything—even her life—for the love of one man. Against the backdrop of seventeenth-century England, a time of bloody revolt and new beginnings, Bersaba and Angelet discover that the ties that bind them can also tear them apart.

Lament for a Lost Lover
The Daughters of England, book 5 of 19
by Philippa Carr

As England is rocked by civil war, a daring young woman attempts to discover her true legacy—and encounters betrayal and breathtaking love

Under the sway of the puritanical Oliver Cromwell, England simmers with religious persecution and political unrest. Like their exiled king, Arabella Tolworthy and her parents have retreated to France but yearn for their native country. When Arabella is separated from her family, she makes her way alone in an increasingly dangerous world and meets two people who will change her life: an actress named Harriet Main and the dashing nobleman Edwin Eversleigh.

As the British king is restored to his rightful throne, Arabella’s odyssey mirrors the strife and turbulence of her beloved homeland. As she tries to make peace with her past, she’s confronted with an unexpected threat to her future—and a second chance at lasting love.

The Love Child
The Daughters of England, book 6 of 19
by Philippa Carr

A family secret unleashes intrigue, incest, and cutthroat treachery in this stunning tale from a master storyteller

While Restoration England continues to be torn apart by political and religious turmoil, fourteen-year-old Priscilla Eversleigh gives herself to fugitive Jocelyn Frinton in a moment of youthful passion. Desperate to conceal her shameful secret from her family, Priscilla journeys to Venice, Italy, where her illegitimate daughter, Carlotta, is passed off to another woman—and a conspiracy is born.

Priscilla’s past will haunt her in the decades to come. As fortune-hunters circle, Carlotta becomes a pawn in a twisted game of greed and revenge. Now Priscilla must make the ultimate sacrifice—even if it costs her the man she loves—which will shape not only Carlotta’s future, but also the lives of the generations of Eversleigh women to come.

The Song of the Siren
The Daughters of England, book 7 of 19
by Philippa Carr

During a bloody Jacobite upheaval, two half-sisters are torn apart by their passion for the same man and bound together by their love for a child

Carlotta, the love child of Priscilla Eversleigh and Jocelyn Frinton, grows up in the shadow of war during the reign of Queen Anne. Carlotta’s personal struggle begins when she’s abducted by the charismatic Jacobite leader Lord Hessenfield. During her time as his hostage, they fall into a passionate affair. When she’s released, the pregnant Carlotta marries to save her daughter Clarissa’s legitimacy, but plunges into reckless affairs with other men—including the man beloved by her half-sister, Damaris.

As England and France vie for dominance, the destinies of Carlotta and Damaris play out on the world stage. Carlotta overlooks the shy Damaris, who forms a tender bond with Clarissa. Damaris’s quiet strength will be put to the test when she must risk her own life to save Clarissa.

The Drop of the Dice
The Daughters of England, book 8 of 19
by Philippa Carr

A young woman tries to move beyond her shadowed legacy, but finds her heart divided and her loyalty challenged

Clarissa Field never knew her mother, but hears whispers that she was a notorious femme fatale. Unknowingly, the girl follows her mother’s passionate path and loses her heart to Jacobite rebel Dickon Frenshaw. But 1715 England is a dangerous place to be a young woman in love. Dickon is caught and exiled to Virginia, and Clarissa is married off to rakish soldier Lance Clavering.

Caught between two men, Clarissa must navigate a hotbed of scandal, treachery, and betrayal. As civil strife threatens to ignite revolution, Clarissa is accused of being a spy. She faces a terrible choice, and must transform her life to prepare her daughter, Zipporah, for her legacy.

The Adulteress
The Daughters of England, book 9 of 19
by Philippa Carr

To the world she has committed an unforgivable sin . . .

Is it possible for people to be possessed?

That’s the question happily married Zipporah Ransome asks herself when she journeys from Clavering Court to her family’s ancestral home in Eversleigh. At nearby Enderby House, a mysterious place connected to her notorious grandmother Carlotta, Zipporah discovers the power of her untapped desires—and the price of their fulfillment.

Enigmatic Frenchman Gerard d’Aubigné changes Zipporah’s life forever. Unable to resist his sensual charms, Zipporah embarks on an illicit affair that leaves her with a haunting secret. Soon her life begins to mirror Carlotta’s, as scandal, violence, and deception threaten to destroy her home. No one, especially not Zipporah and her daughter, will be left unscathed.

Zipporah’s Daughter
The Daughters of England, book 10 of 19
by Philippa Carr

A young woman discovers she’s been living a lie and journeys to France, which teeters on the brink of revolution—only to find her destiny as a true daughter of England

Discovering that the man who raised her was not her birth father comes as a great shock to teenage Lottie. She always thought she’d marry her childhood love, Dickon, and stay at the family estate, Eversleigh. But fate takes Lottie across the sea to France and the mysterious palace of Versailles.

As the daughter of Comte Gerard d’Aubigné, Lottie encounters a world far different from her cloistered existence at Eversleigh. Here, she meets her half-sister and marries gallant patriot Charles de Tourville. As Louis XVI takes the throne with his queen, Marie Antoinette, Lottie is called back to England, where she finds that Dickon may not be the man she thought he was. Meanwhile, France descends into revolution and Lottie’s family becomes increasingly endangered.

Voices in a Haunted Room
The Daughters of England, book 11 of 19
by Philippa Carr

A country in the throes of bloody revolution. A young woman torn between two men. A decision that will change her life forever.

In the wake of the storming of the Bastille, Claudine de Tourville and her family flee France for the peaceful shores of England. When they arrive at her mother’s ancestral estate, Claudine feels as if she has come home. At Eversleigh Court, the seventeen-year-old finds herself caught between her wildly different stepbrothers. David is quiet, studious, and devoted, but it is the passionate, reckless Jonathan who enflames her heart. With France reeling from the execution of its king and queen, Claudine plunges into her own escalating web of deception and betrayal. A decision made in haste will come back to haunt her as a long-lost love returns to England and sends her life spinning out of control.

Philippa Carr is at her provocative, liberating best as she describes a world torn between oppression and freedom.

The Return of the Gypsy
The Daughters of England, book 12 of 19
by Philippa Carr

In early-nineteenth-century England, a woman risks scandal, disgrace, even her own life for a forbidden passion

From the moment the handsome, raffish stranger with the gold earring throws her a kiss, Jessica Frenshaw is enchanted. Rumored to be a half-Spanish wanderer who can predict the future, Romany Jake is unjustly put on trial for murder. After the verdict banishes him from England, Jessica despairs of ever seeing him again. But one fateful day, Jake Cadorson returns to reclaim what he has lost—including the woman who saved him from the gallows.

From the ballrooms and lavish estates of Regency England through the bitter bloodshed of the Napoleonic Wars, Return of the Gypsy weaves a spellbinding tale of blackmail, murder, and illicit passion as a woman risks everything for the man she loves—a man who isn’t what he seems.

Midsummer’s Eve
The Daughters of England, book 13 of 19
by Philippa Carr

From the sea-swept shores of Cornwall to the rugged outback of Australia, Romany Jake’s daughter searches for the great love she left behind

On a fateful midsummer’s eve, Annora Cadorson witnesses a horrifying event that shatters her innocence. Expected to marry Rolf Hanson, the hero of her girlhood dreams, Annora instead flees to London, far from her family, her home in Cornwall, and her unsettling memories.

In a city teeming with intrigue as Queen Victoria ascends the throne, Annora meets a man who will play a crucial role in her life. But fate intervenes once more. Amid a heated battle in Parliament, scandal erupts. Annora flees again, this time to the primitive outback of Australia, where she confronts a secret from her father’s violent past. Unexpected tragedy will send Annora back to where it all began, as she comes face to face with the man she never stopped loving . . . a man who may be lost to her forever.

The Pool of St. Branok
The Daughters of England, book 14 of 19
by Philippa Carr

In the haunting mists of St. Branok’s Pool, a terrible crime will bind together a woman and a man forever

Young Angelet is fascinated by the haunting rumors surrounding the Pool of St. Branok—superstitious tales of its cursed, bottomless waters. The innocent Cornish girl shares the ghostly story with Benedict Lansdon, the handsome, illegitimate grandson of a family friend, and promises to show him the spot. But tragedy strikes when they meet at the pool, and Angelet and Ben become complicit in a crime that could send Ben to the gallows.

Ben returns to Australia, but the pair feels bound by their terrible secret. After a whirlwind season in London, Angelet marries Gervaise Mandeville, a charming rogue with a weakness for gambling. As the casualties from the Crimean War mount, Gervaise decides to try his luck in the Australian gold rush. Angelet travels across the world with him, only to once again be ensnared in a fatal act of violence. Alone in the outback, Angelet faces her own day of reckoning from a long-ago crime—and gets a second chance at love.

The Changeling
The Daughters of England, book 15 of 19
by Philippa Carr

Three young women bound by ties deeper than blood are swept up in a web of intrigue and betrayal in this haunting gothic tale

Rebecca Mandeville arrives at Manorleigh with her mother amid rumors that Rebecca’s politically ambitious stepfather may have murdered his first wife. Homesick for her native Cornwall, Rebecca feels she’ll never belong at Benedict Lansdon’s ancestral estate—a place haunted by the phantoms of past crimes. When tragedy strikes, Rebecca struggles to move on, and becomes inextricably linked to two young girls: her half-sister Belinda and an orphan named Lucie.

Teeming with scandal and murder, The Changeling is at once an atmospheric ghost tale and a gripping story of familial betrayal as powerful as the woman at its haunting center.

The Black Swan
The Daughters of England, book 16 of 19
by Philippa Carr

The riveting Cornwall saga continues with the story of Lucie Lansdon, the sole witness to a horrifying crime much too close to home . . .

After her father is murdered, Lucie Lansdon’s eyewitness testimony sends a fanatical Irish terrorist to the gallows. Fate claims another victim when Lucie receives news that her fiancé has died in Africa. Reeling from the deaths of the two men she loved most, and convinced that her life is cursed, Lucie finally finds happiness when she marries the gentle Roland Fitzgerald.

But her domestic life with Roland and his sister is not all it should be. Someone is watching—and waiting to carry out a cunningly orchestrated plan of retribution. As Lucie’s life is threatened and she begins to doubt her sanity, she’s visited by someone she believed lost to her forever. On the verge of uncovering the truth about a long-ago night, she places her trust in the wrong person.

A Time for Silence
The Daughters of England, book 17 of 19
by Philippa Carr

While the world teeters on the brink of World War I, a young woman’s indiscretion leads to a seething viper’s nest of blackmail and murder

In 1912, with war looming on the horizon, thirteen-year-old Lucinda Greenham is sent to an exclusive boarding school in Belgium. Her joy in sharing this adventure with her best friend, Annabelinda, is cut short when Annabelinda has a clandestine affair leading to pregnancy. Annabelinda’s family arranges a “rest cure” and when the girl returns to school, she seems to have forgotten the incident. Then, in the wake of Germany’s invasion of Belgium, Lucinda and Annabelinda are forced to flee across Europe and find a welcome savior in the dashing Major Marcus Merrivale.

Safely back in England, Lucinda vows to keep her friend’s secret. But someone in the household has uncovered the truth about Annabelinda and the lively baby called Edward. Now Lucinda, who has lost her heart to a decorated soldier, is faced with keeping another secret. As a blackmail plot erupts in murder, and war eradicates a way of life forever, Lucinda discovers that there is a time for love . . . and a time for silence.

The Gossamer Cord
The Daughters of England, book 18 of 19
by Philippa Carr

With World War II on the horizon, a British woman risks her life to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her twin sister

Violetta Denver and her twin sister Dorabella are inseparable—until Dorabella falls in love with Dermot Tregarland. The newlyweds settle in Dermot’s isolated ancestral home along the Cornish coast, and Dorabella soon has a little boy. But Violetta can’t shake the terrible foreboding she’s felt since her sister’s marriage. When she hears that Dorabella went swimming one morning and was swept out to sea, she refuses to believe that her beloved twin is really gone, so a grief-stricken Violetta travels to the Tregarland estate.

There, against the terrible grandeur of sea-swept cliffs, Violetta learns that Dermot’s first wife also drowned under suspicious circumstances. When death claims another victim, Violetta knows the answer lies in the history of the Tregarlands—and a haunting legacy of madness and bad blood. With the help of Jowan Jermyn, Dermot’s neighbor, Violetta moves closer to the truth . . . and closer to a murderer whose long-awaited revenge is about to come full circle.

We’ll Meet Again
The Daughters of England, book 19 of 19
by Philippa Carr

As World War II rages through Europe, two sisters battle for happiness and love

The German army is advancing through Europe and the Battle of Britain is grimly underway. With her fiancé, Jowan, missing in action, Violetta Denver despairs of ever seeing him again. While Violetta waits for news, her sister Dorabella finds herself torn between two men: her French ex-lover Jacques and the heroic, mysterious Captain Brent.

But James Brent may not be what he seems—and soon both Dorabella and Violetta are caught up in a dangerous game of espionage and treason as they travel to wartime London. With their fates hanging in the balance, the twin sisters are bound by a shocking secret. Dorabella risks her life to follow her heart . . . and Violetta refuses to give up hope that one day she will be reunited with her lost love.

Daughters of England
by Philippa Carr

In tumultuous seventeenth-century Britain, ambition, family, and love collide

I was beginning to realize that there was something unusual about our marriage . . .

When fifteen-year-old Sarah Standish runs off to London to be an actress, she discovers a city beyond her wildest dreams. But the most exciting fantasy of all is the real-life stranger who sweeps her off her feet. Sarah marries Jack Adair, the thrillingly handsome Lord Rosslyn. She’s deliriously happy, until she learns her husband’s secret.

Years later, the Adairs’ daughter Kate comes of age. Her father is desperate to retain control of Rosslyn Manor. To do this he needs a strategic alliance and the proper heir, but Kate has promised her heart to someone else. As England battles for its throne, Kate fights for the right to lead her own life, and discovers that love can triumph over the ambitions and follies of men and kings.