Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

( 8 )

Overview

London:1673. With her family ruined by war, penniless thirteen-year-old Sarah Jennings is overjoyed to be chosen as a maid of honor at the bawdy Restoration court of Charles II. She soon wins the trust of Lady Anne of York, a lonely princess who becomes one of her staunchest allies. And though Sarah’s beauty stirs the desires of jaded aristocrats, she wants a grander future for herself than that of a pampered mistress. Only one man possesses ambition and passions that match her own: John Churchill, a dashing ...

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Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

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Overview

London:1673. With her family ruined by war, penniless thirteen-year-old Sarah Jennings is overjoyed to be chosen as a maid of honor at the bawdy Restoration court of Charles II. She soon wins the trust of Lady Anne of York, a lonely princess who becomes one of her staunchest allies. And though Sarah’s beauty stirs the desires of jaded aristocrats, she wants a grander future for herself than that of a pampered mistress. Only one man possesses ambition and passions that match her own: John Churchill, a dashing young military hero. He would ask for her hand—and win her heart for a lifetime….

But Whitehall Palace is ripe with ever-shifting alliances and sexual scandal, and Sarah will need all her cleverness to succeed. Titles, power, and wealth are the prizes, while an idle whisper in the wrong ear can bring a cry of treason, and the executioner’s ax. Will Sarah’s loyalties––and her dreams––falter when a king is toppled from his throne and a new queen crowned? And will she dare risk everything when her one true love is tested by a passionate, dangerous obsession?   
 
Brimming with the intrigue and sensuality of one of history’s most decadent courts, Duchess brings to vivid life the story of an unforgettable woman who determines her own destiny––outspoken, outrageous, but most of all true to herself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sarah Jennings's ascent from poverty as a 13-year-old to the highest echelons of late 17th- and early 18th-century English society has all the trappings of supermarket tabloids: intrigue, treachery, deceit and sexual scandals. In this first-person telling, Scott takes a near-scholarly approach but maintains the thrills as Sarah and her equally ambitious husband, John Churchill, risk charges of treason (and thus, their necks) to ensure the crown for Anne Stuart. Sarah and John become the ultimate power couple: she gets her way, her riches and her title nearly without sacrificing her own principles, while John, despite his personal ambition, seeks the best for his family and country, becoming England's greatest military hero. If each is a bit too good to be true, that is a hazard of the first person and is easy to overlook with two such interesting and able characters. That Sarah is an ancestor of both Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer gives this novel appeal to several generations of historical fiction readers. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
To some, being maid of honor to the heir's wife might seem like the ultimate in luxury and influence. For Sarah Jennings, whose family has been left penniless by war, it is the very opposite of a secure and comfortable position. Instead, she and her beloved John Churchill struggle to weather the political and religious storms that wash over the household of James II of England. These two commoners, who rose to become the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, know the tenuous and dangerous nature of such seeming security and how far the fall from favor can be. Prolific historical novelist Scott's elegantly crafted story of two charismatic soul mates who gave up the chance to marry others, preferring wealth and advancement, is sure to appeal to lovers of good historical fiction. Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451218551
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,015,893
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Holloway Scott is the author of more than thirty historical novels and a graduate of Brown University.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    INTERESTING HISTORICAL FICTION

    Sarah Churchill was indeed an interesting character and her ascend to power and fame was just as remarkable. This book was written from the duchess point of view. It was very insightful though a bit flat at times. Still, I had a great time reading it and didn't put it down until I finished it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    Enjoyable Historical Novel

    This 'fictional autobiography' of Sarah Churchill is well-written and absorbing. Sarah and John Churchill, the ancestors of such twentieth-century notables as Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, were an ambitious pair. They had a deep and abiding love for three things: each other, England, and their own advancement. In fact, there evidently wasn't much Sarah wouldn't do to keep her place as Princess (later Queen) Anne's favorite in the late 1600s. I'm not sure how historically accurate it was, but the naughty doings between the two women make for spicy reading! In any event, this story of the pleasures and perils of being in fickle royalty's inner circle provides great reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    A terrific period piece

    By 1673, Sarah Jennings has no prospects, no hopes and no future as the family of the thirteen year old has been left impoverished like many other commoners by the Civil War. However, an opportunity occurs when Sarah surprisingly is chosen to be a maid of honor at the court of Charles II. She leaps at the chance because she has an ambition to attain entry into the highest levels of Restoration society. She quickly becomes a favorite of the lonely Princess Anne with her honesty and ethics in a court filled with depravity amorality and hedonistic decadence. She soon meets her male equivalent John Churchill who matches her in ambition, ethics and chutzpah. They become an entry and quickly rise in power until they are titled the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. However, climbing the ladder seems easier than maintaining their lofty status as jealousy and backstabbing are the norm. Finally when the Stuarts are dethroned in 1788, will they survive the bloodless Glorious Revolution?---------------- This is an intriguing biographical fiction of ancestors of Winston Churchill though the emphasis is more on Sarah (duh ¿ the title). Sarah is a fascinating protagonist as she swims in a sea of debauched sharks yet in spite of her aspiration manages to remain a principled honest person unafraid to speak the truth to anyone even the Royals. Her Duke is her male equivalent in candor and ambition as they make personal choices that provide for a terrific period piece that historical fiction readers will appreciate.----------- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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