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Forever Amber

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Overview

Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England—that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary—and extraordinary—men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials ...

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Overview

Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England—that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary—and extraordinary—men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials and escapades, she remains, in her heart, true to the one man she really loves, the one man she can never have. Frequently compared to Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber is the other great historical romance, outselling every other American novel of the 1940s—despite being banned in Boston for its sheer sexiness. A book to read and reread, this edition brings back to print an unforgettable romance and a timeless masterpiece.

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Editorial Reviews

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A lusty historical novel.
Salon
As a feat of storytelling, Forever Amber is irresistible.
Gale Research
"It wasn't such a daring book, " maintains Kathleen Winsor in defense of her first novel, Forever Amber. "I wrote only two sexy passages, and my publishers took both of them out. They put in ellipses instead. In those days, you could solve everything with an ellipse." Regardless of both her own opinion and her publisher's attempts to cool the passionate episodes, Forever Amber caused a nationwide scandal and was banned in Boston, Massachusetts, as an obscene and offensive book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556524042
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Rediscovered Classics Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 976
  • Sales rank: 160,307
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Winsor has written a number of historical romances, including The Lovers and Robert and Arabella.

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Read an Excerpt

I first read Forever Amber when I was a teenager and I remember that I could not put it down. In fact, I read it so quickly, I immediately re-read it, to be certain I hadn't missed anything important. At the time, all of my girlfriends had their noses buried in it, and like me they found it compulsive and compelling reading. I became a fan of the author and read all of her other novels as they were published over the years, from Star Money to Calais. But Forever Amber has remained a particular favorite of mine.When I was recently asked to write an introduction to this new edition I picked up the novel again, and once more I discovered it was a genuine page-turner that had lost nothing over the years. Time had not dimmed it, nor had the changing fashions in fiction diminished it. The book remains a smashing read, as compelling now as it was all those years ago. -Barbara Taylor Bradford
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Foreword

When Forever Amber was first published in 1944 it created a sensation and catapulted its author to instant fame. The novel sold 100,000 copies in its first week, and Kathleen Winsor became a household name. Considered bawdy and immoral, the book was banned in Boston, and the Hays office pronounced that it was too impure for the movies in its present state. But in the end it sold over two million copies in hardcover, and it did become a movie starring Linda Darnell and Cornel Wilde.

I first read Forever Amber when I was a teenager. I remember that I could not put it down. In fact, I read it so quickly that I immediately reread it to be certain I hadn’t missed anything important. At the time, all of my girlfriends had their noses buried in it. Like me, they found it compulsive and compelling reading. I became a fan of the author’s and read all her other novels as they were published over the years, from Star Money to Calais. But Forever Amber has remained a particular favorite.

When I was asked to write a foreword to this new edition, I picked up the novel again and once more discovered it was a genuine page-turner; it had lost nothing over the years. Time had not dimmed it, nor had the changing fashions in fiction diminished it. The book remains a smashing read, as compelling now as it was all those years ago

. What struck me most forcibly was the enormous amount of research the author had done—impeccable research that cannot be bettered, in my opinion, and certainly worthy of a historian.

Intrigued by the depth and enormity of the research, I inquired as to how the author had gone about it. I discovered that when Kathleen Winsor was married (in 1938) to her first husband, Robert Herwig, she became fascinated by the books he was then reading for his college theme on Charles II. She began to read them as well, and went on reading books about this period for the next five years. After that, she wrote the novel.

Forever Amber is set during the English Restoration, after Charles II returned to London from exile in Europe and the monarchy was restored. Every detail of life in that period--food, fashions, architecture, interior design, and politics--is covered in the fictional tale of Amber St. Clare. Winsor skillfully dissects the manners and mores of that age in every echelon of society, from peasants to princes of the blood. We see the pomp, ceremony, and magnificence of the court and how it coexisted with poverty, sickness, cruelty, and despair. We get more than a glimpse of such court beauties as Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, the King’s mistress; we meet Samuel Pepys, the diarist; Sir Peter Lely, the great portraitist; and Nell Gwynne, the orange seller and actress who became another mistress of the sexually driven king. The author pinpoints the excesses of the court--adultery, rape, rampant love affairs, illegitimate children, and abortions--and we recognize the everyday sensuality, greed, duplicity, and treachery of the era; in essence, we witness life as it was lived by rich and poor alike. We suffer through the Great Plague, during which we see Amber at her best, full of heart and compassion. And in consequence we are caught up in her life, and we root for her.

Kathleen Winsor managed to make the Restoration Period vivid and real, and her fictional characters spring readily to life on the page. She also created a marvelous sense of time and place and atmosphere, and it is this that sets the tone of the novel.

Amber, beautiful and sexy, may well be immoral, but the court of Charles II is worse: bawdy, brutal, cruel, licentious, and wicked. On the other hand, when it comes to intimate sex scenes between Amber and her many and varied lovers, a great deal is left to the imagination of the reader. As perhaps it should be.

In a curious way, I think those critics of long ago were really reviewing the Restoration Period itself, and not the story Kathleen Winsor wrote. However, the book does indeed have an overwhelming sense of sexuality, which comes from both the writing and the many characters the author invented, most especially Amber. Born illegitimate, of aristocratic but unwed parents, she is brought up by a farmer and his wife as their niece. At the age of 16 she is captivated by a dashing cavalier passing through her village, and she goes off to London with him. She never looks back. Her adventurous life, her many loves, and her rising fortunes make for compelling reading.

I once described fiction as a monumental lie that has to have the absolute ring of truth if it is to succeed. And that ring of truth invariably comes from research, which in turn gives a novel its authenticity. It is this kind of authenticity plus good storytelling that made Forever Amber a bestseller 56 years ago.

Now it has become a classic, and that is as it should be.

—March 2000

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 100 )
Rating Distribution

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(78)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    PLEASE MAKE IT AVAILABLE ON NOOK!

    I read the flyleaf in Barnes & Noble and truly want to read the book, but I don't want to lug around a huge book when I could read it on my Nook. Please, please, please make it available on Nook!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2011

    Another request to make this a Nook Book!

    I'd love to read this on Nook, but can't find as an epub anywhere! Please make it available!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2005

    Not as good as Gone With the Wind

    Amber is a less-likeable, English, Scarlett O'Hara, but that doesn't make this book 'Gone With the Wind.' I found her an utterly unsympathetic heroine. If she can't get her way by sleeping with somebody, she'll whine about it and throw things. The only time I really found myself enjoying reading this book was during the plague scene, where she and Bruce are quarantined together and forced to take turns nursing each other back to health. But after that, things get back to normal. I might have liked Bruce more if he didn't continue sleeping with Amber while professing to love his sweet, little American wife. Amber seems to get a come-uppance in the end, but the author leaves it ambiguous, as if she was planning some sequel that never got written. It left me shaking my head. I often see this book on the same lists as 'GWTW' and Anya Seton's 'Katherine.' It doesn't hold a candle to either of them. If you want a good historical romance read one of them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    A Trip into the Past

    The heroism and ambition of Amber makes this book an automatic page turner and I found it very hard to put down. From just a dream and a longing to become more then a farm girl, she built her life and gained a title for herself in a time where ambition in females was extremely frowned on. Hands down one of the best books I've ever read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This story goes on forever. . .

    This book has wonderful stories of adventure, romance and intrigue. I enjoyed the historical fiction of King Charles' court and time era. The problem with the book is that the characters go on forever (the book is appropriately named) without an ending and I require a happy ending to really enjoy a book. Call me unrealistic, but that's one of many reasons I read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Very enjoyable historical fiction

    Banned in the 1950's considered too risqué-she does a great job describing the décor/habits/clothing/mileau of the time-King Charles Restoration-slightly bodice ripperish at times-but still what fun to read!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    Have this book many times and just love it! Would love to have

    Have this book many times and just love it! Would love to have it on my nook to read. Pleassseeee do the book in nook form.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2010

    Worth Reading

    I purchased this book because I loved the book Gone With The Wind, and I'd read if you liked that book you'd like this book.

    I enjoyed the characters in the book, and though I had a bit of a hard time relating to Amber (just as I did Scarlett in Gone with the Wind) much of time, she is very interesting and over comes the many hurdles life throws at her.

    All & all I liked the book & would recommend it to someone else.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    A quick history lesson in a fun read!

    I have greatly enjoyed Forever Amber, which takes you through major happening of the 17th century (from the great fire of London to the Plague to the fashion of the era.) This book is recommended to anyone who loves the history of England mixed with a story of love and lust.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2003

    Relax and take your time

    This is exactly, but exactly, the kind of book they don¿t write any more¿big and lush, full of intrigue, and overflowing with romance and detail. Amber may not be the kind of woman who makes a good role model, but she makes a terrific heroine. Just about every page¿and there are a lot of pages in this huge book¿has a new turn of events, as Amber makes her ruthless way up the ladder of Restoration England. The case can be made that Winsor wrote this book to take advantage of the success a few years earlier of Gone With the Wind, but that doesn¿t detract one iota from its pleasures. You can¿t have too much of a good thing. An enormous spectacle, as dramatic as they come, this one shouldn¿t be missed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Med den

    Amber clan

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    I discovered Forever Amber MANY years ago as a teenager and hav

    I discovered Forever Amber MANY years ago as a teenager and have reread it dozens of times as well as loaned it to many others (often having to replace it when I didn't get it back). Truly a classic in that it never goes "out of style". Don't understand the review which stated it was written by a man-COME ON!!! This is so obviously a woman's story::Amber may be labelled as immoral but she loved one man and one only in her life-the others were poor substitutes for Bruce. His infidelity to his wife (who is one of the truly likeable characters in the book) seems shocking to us now but that wasn't so unusual in that time. Charles II is drawn as considerably more sympathetic than the history books describe him--his story and that of his mistresses is a great subplot. All in all an excellent adventure that stands the test of time. As usual the movie with Cornel Wilde and Linda Darnell couldn't begin to do justice to the book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2013

    Must read

    920 pages of historical fiction. Follows Amber during the restoration of Charles 2's decadent England. Packed with historical figures & lustful without any graffic loves scenes. Great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    Forgotten treasure

    I read this so long ago i had forggoten how captivating the strory is

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    A let down.

    I read this book a couple of years ago. I was excited for a lengthy book that i could get lost in for a while, and not finish overnight. I have to say this was a great page turner but the ending stunk. I felt cheated and that the author got tired of writing it so just ended it abruptly. I invested time into a book that let me down in the end.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    Definitely written by a man

    Entertaining story line but main character had zero redeemable qualities.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This book stays with you forever. My great aunt read this when s

    This book stays with you forever. My great aunt read this when she was 16, my mother after her at the same age, and then it was my turn a few years back to pick up this book. I was instantly drawn into the world of Amber and could not put it down! At frist the thickness of the novel had my 16 year old self doubtful but it went by too quickly. I'm 20 now and have given this book to many of my friends who also fell in love with the story. Amber to me wasn't "unsympathetic" at all. She loved only one man in her entire life and I'm sure will always love him, but he never loved her back. The characters were completely fleshed out and dynamic. Kathleen Winsor made this story feel real and true! I can see why in the 1940's this book was banned from the public but now in 2013 it isn't risque at all. A must read, you will not be disappointed!!  SPOILER ALERT** The ending however is a little unsatisfactory because she doesn't end up with the man she loves. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    My all-time favorite historical romance. Amber is a 17th centur

    My all-time favorite historical romance. Amber is a 17th century Scarlett O'Hara; self-centered, vain, passionate, and courageous. She is one of those characters you love to hate, and yet you can't help but admire her. The book is also a wonderful and vivid - and fairly accurate - account of Restoration England.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Good read

    I 1st read rhis in my 20. Did not like the ending.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    Talk about "not being able to put it down" !

    Oh do I ever remember "Forever Amber" as being one of my all time favorite books that I just couldn't put down! I went into labor with my now 40 year old son when I was close to the end of reading it, and had my husband keep my place with every labor pain. It was finished before his birth and had he been a girl, she would have been named Amber. It's without a doubt one of the most memorable books of my life. Now it's long past time to read it again if only it was Nook available! We've come a long way baby. ;)

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