Review: The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell

by Gillian Bagwell

Release Date:  January 4, 2011
Berkley Trade

SYNOPSIS:  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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I first saw mention of the upcoming release of The Darling Strumpet, a novel on Nell Gwynn, I knew immediately I had to read it. You see, she’s my favorite royal mistress and I try to read everything I can on her. Being a debut novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I need not have worried because author Gillian Bagwell blew me away!!

The Darling Strumpet recounts Nell’s impressive rise from the streets of London to the most coveted position in the land, that of mistress to King Charles II, the Merry Monarch and tells it in such an entertaining way that the reader is kept in absolute rapture from start to finish! Nell’s spirit was captured perfectly by Bagwell and this book just reminded me why I adore Nell so much. Her tenacity, keen wit and charm, big heart and refusal to make amends or feel ashamed of her role as royal mistress make her so likable, you can easily see why she was a favorite of Charles II.

Being that the novel is just as juicy as the orange on the cover and with knowing that there are many YA readers that visit this blog, I feel I would be remiss in not disclaiming that there are some pretty racy scenes. They didn’t bother me so much and I didn’t feel they overwhelmed the story but they are pretty detailed, so I just thought I would mention it.

I enthusiastically recommend The Darling Strumpet and if her debut novel is any indication of the fabulousness we can look forward to in future books by Gillian Bagwell then consider me hooked!!

For more information, please visit Gillian Bagwell's WEBSITE.

FTC DISCLOSURE:I received this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Passages to the Past is excited to be hosting a Live Chat Night with Gillian Bagwell on January 10th, from 6:30 - 7:30pm EST and hope to see you all there!



  1. I can't wait to start reading it. One has to admire what she did to survive and thrive in that atmosphere.

  2. Exactly Pricilla! I hope you love it too!

  3. Now when you say she is your favorite Royal Mistress, I really want to know about her.

    Sounds like a good one. Thank you for the wonderful review!

  4. A different perspective than many historical novels. A good read and hard to put down. Your week end will fly by while you read this book.

  5. The ending of this story is nicely written, it wrings you out emotionally and absorbs you completely as you feel Nell's raw grief and ecstatic joy.


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