Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

by Susan Holloway Scott


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In the perilous world of kings and queens, one woman matches ambition with loyalty and ruthless intrigue with all-consuming passion in this gripping historical fiction novel.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451218551
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2006
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 517,397
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Susan Holloway Scott is the author of more than forty historical novels and novellas. Writing under her own name as well as Miranda Jarrett, her bestselling books have received numerous awards and honors. With more than three million copies of her books in print, she has been published in nineteen countries around the world. Her most recent historical novels have been set in seventeenth-century England, in the decadent, politically charged court of King Charles II, and all have been Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice titles. She is a graduate of Brown University, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was interesting to read a historical fiction novel through the eyes of Sarah Churchill because she is so often demonized. She was really intelligent and ruthless but so fascinating as well. I’m a little disappointed that the book didn’t spend enough time going in to the decline of the relationship between Anne and Sarah because it glossed over a lot for the sake of keeping Sarah as a sympathetic figure in the reader’s eyes.
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Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know very little about history, so I really have nothing to say about whether this book is historically accurate or not. For me, that's beside the point. Bad reader, I know, particularly when it's a fictionalized biography of an actual historical figure, but I'm trying to be honest here.So when I started reading this, I knew nothing about Sarah Churchill, which also means I had no preconceived ideas about her. It follows her life from the time she arrives in court as a young girl attending Princess Anne.She quickly becomes very adept at court life--politics and intrigue and knowing who to cultivate and who to snub, and most importantly, she avoids becoming a casualty of court life--a mistress of the king or some other powerful man.She falls in love with John Churchill, who's very much like her with a similar non-wealthy background and very politically astute. She holds out for marriage, while he's determined to marry for wealth and have Sarah as a mistress.The book tells of her fluctuating political fortunes, tied to those of Princess Anne, and I found it just fascinating, particularly because it doesn't just give a list of events, but the thoughts and emotions motivating them. It also paints a very vivid picture of court life at the time.So I've been entertained, and learned a little about British history in the process. And if historical scholars have different interpretations of the personalities and events in the book, I'm sorry, but I just can't bring myself to get too worried about it.
nellista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly entertaining read! The author has turned out a lovely novel, showing a great level of research into the people and traditions of court life. I knew nothing about Sarah Churchill, and very little about Queen Anne when I set out to read this book, and I am keen to read more about them. And itsn't that always a good measuring stick for historical fiction?
TallyDi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sarah Jennings rose from poverty to become a duchess and the confidant of a queen. She joins the court during the reign of Charles II, lives through the reign of William and Mary of Orange, and outlives Queen Anne.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now, and I decided to take it with me on a short vacation. While I can't say that I was totally enthralled by it, Duchess ended up being pretty good fare for plane trips and layovers.The novel is based on the life of Sarah Jennings, who first came to the court of Charles II as a twelve-year old when she became a maid of honor to his brother James's wife. There, she befriends the younger Princess Anne and, at 15, meets the love of her life, the soldier John Churchill. Despite their passion, both Sarah and John initially reject the idea of marriage; both are ambitious commoners who expect to make a socially and economically advantageous match. When they decide that they cannot live without one another, the couple works together to get ahead, mainly by pinning their hopes on Anne, who is third in line to the throne. They rely on Anne's obsessive love for Sarah and her promises that nothing will ever change her feelings--as well as their belief that, due to their unpopularity with the english people, her Catholic father James won't last long on the throne, nor will her sister Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange.Scott presents a fairly interesting overview of the politics, fashions, customs, and rivalries in the late 17th-century court, and Sarah and John are fascinating figures of the day. I do have one caveat, which may not apply to most readers: I might have enjoyed the book more if I had not seen (several times) the excellent 1970s PBS series 'The First Churchills.' In many ways, I felt that I was reading a summary of the series, because nothing really new was added or further developed. I anticipated every event and plot turn (while picturing in my mind Susan Hampshire, John Neville, and Margaret Tyzak--which wasn't a bad way to read it!). So if you haven't seen the series, I'd recommend this book with a higher rating (4 stars). If you have seen 'The First Churchills,' just be prepared for a decent summary review.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Duchess is the debut novel from historical fication author Susan Holloway Scott. Though I've already read one of Scott's other novels, I've kind of gone on a mission to read all of her books, even from the beginning. Though I typically don't read Restoration-era fiction, there are a few interesting ones out there I've read from the period and I trust that Scott won't let me down.hDuchess tells the story of Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlbrough. Born into a commoner family, young Sarah goes to court at the tender age of thirteen after she is chosen to be a lady in waiting to Lady Anne, Duchess of York and daughter of the king. While gaining Anne's trust, Sarah is introduced to the sensual, religiously charged, political world of Charles II's court. Soon she catches the eye of the dashing John Churchill, another low-born man who is making a name for himself in the military. As Sarah becomes drawn into the intrigues of court, and the conflicted affections of John Churchill, she grows closer and closer to the royal family, but not without consequence.Duchess is a fabulous novel, especially for a debut. Scott's talent as both a writer and historical are evident from the first page, where she pulled me in and refused to let me go. In particular, Sarah is a well-developed characters who is easy for readers to relate to and, throughout the novel, goes through a realistic transformation from an innocent child to a mature, intelligent woman who can manipulate the terrors of court with ease. It's easy for readers to get pulled into Sarah's twisty and unexpected tale, especially since she is a little-known and rarely explored historical figure.Probably the only issue I had with this book was the pacing. It moved just a little bit too slow for me at points, especially at the beginning, but once I got through that I couldn't put the book down. Each page is dripping with politics, religious issue of the period and a fascinating tale of a compelling character.
Harrietthespy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't normally pick up historical fiction, but the cover and back blurb intrigued me. Glad I did! Quite juicy and well written! There is also good information on Sarah Churchill at the end of the book. I found the BBC series on the Churchill's at my library-I am going to check it soon.
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting subject but not well told. Only read first 10 pages. Such a complex situation/person oversimplified. Told in the first person from Sarah's perspective, but quickly became smug and annoying. Didn't finish
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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