The Harlot Interview: Part Two

Restoration_barbieInterview by Loretta Chase

Today I continue my ROYAL HARLOT interview with fellow-Wench Susan Holloway Scott.  If you missed Part One, look here.  ROYAL HARLOT is available everywhere now, but Susan will also be giving away a signed copy on Sunday night to someone who posted on either Part One or Part Two of this interview.  We know that TypePad was a little squirrelly on Tuesday, rejecting comments; if you missed out then, please be sure to add a comment here to be eligible for the drawing.

And to get you in the proper mood, here’s a Restoration-era Barbie, courtesey of Wench Susan King.  Ahh, we do love our Barbies….

Loretta: Writing in the first person, you’ve created a heroine in ROYAL HARLOT who is far from perfect,Royalharlotfront_cover yet utterly fascinating.  How did you develop your sense of who she was?

Susan: When I wrote about Sarah Churchill for DUCHESS, I had almost too much first-person information in letters, journals, even an “authorized” autobiography.  Sarah kept every letter she received and copies of the ones she wrote; Barbara either didn’t keep anything, or her descendents chose not to preserve what she’d left.  (The one exception is the Earl of Chesterfield, who did keep — and publish — the letters that Barbara sent to him as a head-over-heels fifteen-year-old; in the way of most teenage love-letters, these manage to be at once achingly innocent and terrifyingly worldly.)

Samuel_pepysw There’s very little written directly by her, though a great deal recounting her activities in a distinctly tabloid-esque vein.  She’s mentioned repeatedly by legendary diarist Samuel Pepys (shown to the left), who, like many other men of the time,  was almost obsessed with her beauty, desirability, and yes, even her underwear (there’s a famous passage about how he made a point of walking past her house on wash-day, when her laundress would hang her lavishly lace-trimmed smocks and petticoats out to dry on the branches of her mulberry bushes, and how this was enough to fuel his dreams of her for nights afterward.)

1st_earl_of_clarendonwBut two of the other major contemporary histories of the Restoration were written by men who regarded Barbara as a personal enemy.  Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (that pompous-looking fellow in the middle left) could rightly attribute his downfall at court to Barbara’s hatred, and he returned the favor in his eight-volume history of Charles’s reign by repeating every  vile whisper about her he could find, and others that he likely invented.  Bishop_gilbert_burnetw_2 In the History of His Own Time, Bishop Gilbert Burnet (the bottom one, on the left) likewise was no fan, viewing Barbara as a vile adultress, a Papist enemy of the Anglican church, and a threat to Charles’s protestant soul. Consequentally he paints a very dark portrait of Barbara where no whispered scandal is too evil to repeat, even accusing her of lewd behavior in church as a little girl.  Where there’s smoke, there’s generally fire, true, but while these two gentlemen were hardly impartial chroniclers of Barbara’s life, their venomous gossip has so often been repeated that it’s often accepted as historical fact. 

For my own fictionalized version of Barbara, I sifted through the gossip to try to find the woman who could inspire such strong feelings.  To create her voice, I had to decide which anecdotes and circumstances  felt “right”, and what didn’t, and go from there.

Loretta: Though we see the world through Barbara’s eyes, King Charles II is, rightfully, at the heart of the story.  Some of the scenes involving him were quite poignant.  I’ve always found him hard to pin down.  What’s your sense of him as a man and as a king?

Charles_ii_by_peter_lily Susan: As a man, Charles has many qualities of any proper romantic hero: he was tall, dark, athletic, and handsome, had a great sense of humor, lots of power, and several nifty palaces.  He was kind and considerate of others (not a customary trait in monarchs!), and was known for his exquisite good manners.  He preferred women who were as witty as they were beautiful, loved dogs and horses, and in a time when few aristocratic fathers showed much interest in their offspring, he adored his motley family of illegitimate children, making a point of visiting them all at least once a day. 

Of course, not everything was perfect.  He had a horrible relationship with his mother, always a suspicious omen.  He was easily bored.  He was constantly short of funds, and always having to beg Parliament for money.  He didn’t seem to be able to be sexually faithful to any woman, and he was so habitually promiscuous that he almost certainly was poxed. 

As a ruler, he was an idealistic king, determined to learn from his father’s mistakes.  He was accessibleGreat_fire_of_london to his people on a daily basis in a way no modern leader ever could be.  Not only was he approachable in the public parks during his daily walks with his small pack of dogs, but also at worship, at the theatres, and sailing or swimming in the Thames.  During the Great Fire, he didn’t flee to the safety of the country like most of his courtiers, but instead joined in fighting the fire himself, even passing buckets of water with the others.  He longed to heal his fractured country with a generous optimism that his headstrong people warily resisted.

Abbey But he was also chronically lazy in matters of state, and possibly ADD.  After a conscientious, hard-working start to his reign, he settled into a pattern of unproductive complacency, letting others make most of his political decisions.  He disliked conflict, and preferred to take the easiest course rather than the difficult choices of a successful leader. He relied too much on secret financial subsidies from his cousin Louis XIV, and was prone to listening more to his heart than his head.  He was most likely a secret Catholic, not a wise choice for the leader of the Anglican Church. His reign is generally characterized as one of great charm, but enormous wasted potential.

Loretta: In Royal Harlot, the king and Barbara are larger than life yet completely human.  Their relationship is the stuff of drama, and yet it has its endearingly domestic side.  How did you develop this view of their relationship?  What, apart from the obvious sexual attraction, do you think made this relationship last so long?

Susan: Only the most public encounters between Charles and Barbara are historically documented, andBarbaragoddess007 nothing of their private, personal relationship.  That’s when the researcher has to step aside and let the novelist take over.  But it did seem to me that Charles and Barbara were definitely kindred spirits.  Both were young when they lost their fathers violently (Barbara’s died of battle wounds during the Civil War, Charles’s more dramatically was beheaded.)  Both grew to adulthood with a strong senses of loss and melancholy that never quite left them, and gave something of a desperate edge to all the gaiety and merriment of their later lives.  Both were witty, handsome, and widely admired and desired, with all the baggage that so many blessings can bring. (To the right is yet another painting by Lely of Barbara as a goddess.)

Both, too, shared a similar attitude towards sex and passion, and both seemed to require constant variety.  They recognized one anothers’ virtues and flaws, and in return accepted them. 

Charlottefitzroyslave They were also connected by their five children.  They fussed and worried over them like any other parents, and long after Barbara had left the English court and moved to France, she and Charles exchanged lengthy letters about this daughter’s marriage prospects or that son’s troubles at school that are touching by being so ordinary. (To the left is one of their daughters, Charlotte Fitzroy, with an African boy who was one of her personal servants; it was the fashion among aristocrats for children to have other children as servants, especially exotic, foreign servants — a symbol of the growing power of the English empire.)

Loretta: This book gives us a glimpse not only of the characters whose story we followed in DUCHESS but of at least one character who’s to play a lead role in your next book.  Please tell us about what’s coming next and when.

Susan: My next historical novel will be The King’s Favorite, the story of Nell Gwyn.  Though Nell’s “jobNell_with_blue_cloak_fixed description” might be the same as Barbara’s (she followed Barbara as Charles II’s mistress), she’s the antithesis of the mighty Lady Castlemaine: a sprightly, diminutive redhead who rose from the streets and brothels of Covent Garden to prominence as a wildly popular actress in the Restoration theatre.  Quick-witted and generous to all, she was blessed with the rare ability both to make Charles laugh, and to win his complete trust.  If Barbara was the drama-queen at court, then Nell was the comedienne. Yet even after Nell became the king’s mistress and friends with others in the court, she never forgot her roots among the common people. (That’s Nell to the right, jaunty in a blue fringed cloak.)

The King’s Favorite
will be published next summer by New American Library.  Check out the first chapter on my website: www.susanhollowayscott.com.

Loretta: Royal gossip is as popular today as it has ever been.  Royals are still celebrities, after all.  But which of them would you rather read about?  Today’s royals, or those of the past?  Can today’s Windsor clan hold a candle to the glory-days of the Tudors, the Stuarts, or the Hanovers?  Unlike Charles II, the current Prince Charles has had only one mistress, and it has been considered despicable by many of his subjects.  (Best not to imagine what modern tabloids would make of the Countess of Castlemaine!) Do you think people today hold those in the public eye to a higher standard than in the past? 

100 thoughts on “The Harlot Interview: Part Two”

  1. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I am so looking forward to reading Royal Harlot. It is sitting by my bed right now (what better place?) I love Barbara’s yellow robes/dress in the painting–the book just feels rich in my hand (the whole back cover is that luscious yellow).
    I have been dying to ask you if you’ve seen the August Oprah magazine cover–it reminds me so much of one of those “goddess” paintings that Barbara had painted of herself. Oprah sits in a throne-like chair, swathed in orange robes, holding what could be a scepter in her hand (it’s really a beach umbrella), with a huge ring flashing on her finger. Perhaps this is a modern rendition of “celebrity as goddess”? Or is Oprah posing as “royalty”? How does it strike your art historian’s eye?
    Thank you for writing such fabulous books!
    Yours,
    Melinda

    Reply
  2. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I am so looking forward to reading Royal Harlot. It is sitting by my bed right now (what better place?) I love Barbara’s yellow robes/dress in the painting–the book just feels rich in my hand (the whole back cover is that luscious yellow).
    I have been dying to ask you if you’ve seen the August Oprah magazine cover–it reminds me so much of one of those “goddess” paintings that Barbara had painted of herself. Oprah sits in a throne-like chair, swathed in orange robes, holding what could be a scepter in her hand (it’s really a beach umbrella), with a huge ring flashing on her finger. Perhaps this is a modern rendition of “celebrity as goddess”? Or is Oprah posing as “royalty”? How does it strike your art historian’s eye?
    Thank you for writing such fabulous books!
    Yours,
    Melinda

    Reply
  3. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I am so looking forward to reading Royal Harlot. It is sitting by my bed right now (what better place?) I love Barbara’s yellow robes/dress in the painting–the book just feels rich in my hand (the whole back cover is that luscious yellow).
    I have been dying to ask you if you’ve seen the August Oprah magazine cover–it reminds me so much of one of those “goddess” paintings that Barbara had painted of herself. Oprah sits in a throne-like chair, swathed in orange robes, holding what could be a scepter in her hand (it’s really a beach umbrella), with a huge ring flashing on her finger. Perhaps this is a modern rendition of “celebrity as goddess”? Or is Oprah posing as “royalty”? How does it strike your art historian’s eye?
    Thank you for writing such fabulous books!
    Yours,
    Melinda

    Reply
  4. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I am so looking forward to reading Royal Harlot. It is sitting by my bed right now (what better place?) I love Barbara’s yellow robes/dress in the painting–the book just feels rich in my hand (the whole back cover is that luscious yellow).
    I have been dying to ask you if you’ve seen the August Oprah magazine cover–it reminds me so much of one of those “goddess” paintings that Barbara had painted of herself. Oprah sits in a throne-like chair, swathed in orange robes, holding what could be a scepter in her hand (it’s really a beach umbrella), with a huge ring flashing on her finger. Perhaps this is a modern rendition of “celebrity as goddess”? Or is Oprah posing as “royalty”? How does it strike your art historian’s eye?
    Thank you for writing such fabulous books!
    Yours,
    Melinda

    Reply
  5. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I am so looking forward to reading Royal Harlot. It is sitting by my bed right now (what better place?) I love Barbara’s yellow robes/dress in the painting–the book just feels rich in my hand (the whole back cover is that luscious yellow).
    I have been dying to ask you if you’ve seen the August Oprah magazine cover–it reminds me so much of one of those “goddess” paintings that Barbara had painted of herself. Oprah sits in a throne-like chair, swathed in orange robes, holding what could be a scepter in her hand (it’s really a beach umbrella), with a huge ring flashing on her finger. Perhaps this is a modern rendition of “celebrity as goddess”? Or is Oprah posing as “royalty”? How does it strike your art historian’s eye?
    Thank you for writing such fabulous books!
    Yours,
    Melinda

    Reply
  6. Can’t wait to read this – just finished Haeger’s Nell Gwyn book and Castlemaine was practically tying people to railroad tracks. (good read, just saying) And I’m glad to see the Restoration seems to be coming back a bit – I’ve recently read more in this time period than I had in years.
    As to modern royals – I dunno. I think they just don’t like Charles. Di was hardly called the names he was & she’d a stack of lovers, didn’t she? (The rumours about Harry persist.) & Ferguson lives on Andrew’s estate ‘for the children’ and all. I think the Windsors have some kick in them yet. But the attitude has changed – royals have become optional, but in the Restoration they’d gone without and weren’t that eager to try it again. Royals were like family, love them or hate them, you could hardly change them. Plus the whole divine thing.
    Can you just imagine what would happen if Wills & Harry started talking about being the voice of God? Which reminds me – Kate Middleton is definitely a future subject of a historical novel. No doubt at all.

    Reply
  7. Can’t wait to read this – just finished Haeger’s Nell Gwyn book and Castlemaine was practically tying people to railroad tracks. (good read, just saying) And I’m glad to see the Restoration seems to be coming back a bit – I’ve recently read more in this time period than I had in years.
    As to modern royals – I dunno. I think they just don’t like Charles. Di was hardly called the names he was & she’d a stack of lovers, didn’t she? (The rumours about Harry persist.) & Ferguson lives on Andrew’s estate ‘for the children’ and all. I think the Windsors have some kick in them yet. But the attitude has changed – royals have become optional, but in the Restoration they’d gone without and weren’t that eager to try it again. Royals were like family, love them or hate them, you could hardly change them. Plus the whole divine thing.
    Can you just imagine what would happen if Wills & Harry started talking about being the voice of God? Which reminds me – Kate Middleton is definitely a future subject of a historical novel. No doubt at all.

    Reply
  8. Can’t wait to read this – just finished Haeger’s Nell Gwyn book and Castlemaine was practically tying people to railroad tracks. (good read, just saying) And I’m glad to see the Restoration seems to be coming back a bit – I’ve recently read more in this time period than I had in years.
    As to modern royals – I dunno. I think they just don’t like Charles. Di was hardly called the names he was & she’d a stack of lovers, didn’t she? (The rumours about Harry persist.) & Ferguson lives on Andrew’s estate ‘for the children’ and all. I think the Windsors have some kick in them yet. But the attitude has changed – royals have become optional, but in the Restoration they’d gone without and weren’t that eager to try it again. Royals were like family, love them or hate them, you could hardly change them. Plus the whole divine thing.
    Can you just imagine what would happen if Wills & Harry started talking about being the voice of God? Which reminds me – Kate Middleton is definitely a future subject of a historical novel. No doubt at all.

    Reply
  9. Can’t wait to read this – just finished Haeger’s Nell Gwyn book and Castlemaine was practically tying people to railroad tracks. (good read, just saying) And I’m glad to see the Restoration seems to be coming back a bit – I’ve recently read more in this time period than I had in years.
    As to modern royals – I dunno. I think they just don’t like Charles. Di was hardly called the names he was & she’d a stack of lovers, didn’t she? (The rumours about Harry persist.) & Ferguson lives on Andrew’s estate ‘for the children’ and all. I think the Windsors have some kick in them yet. But the attitude has changed – royals have become optional, but in the Restoration they’d gone without and weren’t that eager to try it again. Royals were like family, love them or hate them, you could hardly change them. Plus the whole divine thing.
    Can you just imagine what would happen if Wills & Harry started talking about being the voice of God? Which reminds me – Kate Middleton is definitely a future subject of a historical novel. No doubt at all.

    Reply
  10. Can’t wait to read this – just finished Haeger’s Nell Gwyn book and Castlemaine was practically tying people to railroad tracks. (good read, just saying) And I’m glad to see the Restoration seems to be coming back a bit – I’ve recently read more in this time period than I had in years.
    As to modern royals – I dunno. I think they just don’t like Charles. Di was hardly called the names he was & she’d a stack of lovers, didn’t she? (The rumours about Harry persist.) & Ferguson lives on Andrew’s estate ‘for the children’ and all. I think the Windsors have some kick in them yet. But the attitude has changed – royals have become optional, but in the Restoration they’d gone without and weren’t that eager to try it again. Royals were like family, love them or hate them, you could hardly change them. Plus the whole divine thing.
    Can you just imagine what would happen if Wills & Harry started talking about being the voice of God? Which reminds me – Kate Middleton is definitely a future subject of a historical novel. No doubt at all.

    Reply
  11. Melinda — You’re not the first reader to point out the similarity between Oprah’s cover-pose and Barbara’s, or make the celebrity-as-goddess analogy. Every time I see a copy of O this month at the grocery store or on a newstand, I laugh. *g*
    Liz — I’m not sure that the Restoration is the New Regency (yet, anyway), but there are definitely more books being set in this time. In addition to the Diane Haeger book, there’s also Karlene Koen’s “Dark Angels”, which made a big splash last fall.
    As for today’s royals — I think Diana left an indelible mark on how the Windsors are viewed. For whatever reason, she could do no wrong in the public’s eyes, while Charles could/can do no right.
    And Kate Middleton: there was yet another actress (and another lovely Lely portrait) involved briefly with Charles II whose name was Mrs. Myddleton. Hmmmmm…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  12. Melinda — You’re not the first reader to point out the similarity between Oprah’s cover-pose and Barbara’s, or make the celebrity-as-goddess analogy. Every time I see a copy of O this month at the grocery store or on a newstand, I laugh. *g*
    Liz — I’m not sure that the Restoration is the New Regency (yet, anyway), but there are definitely more books being set in this time. In addition to the Diane Haeger book, there’s also Karlene Koen’s “Dark Angels”, which made a big splash last fall.
    As for today’s royals — I think Diana left an indelible mark on how the Windsors are viewed. For whatever reason, she could do no wrong in the public’s eyes, while Charles could/can do no right.
    And Kate Middleton: there was yet another actress (and another lovely Lely portrait) involved briefly with Charles II whose name was Mrs. Myddleton. Hmmmmm…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  13. Melinda — You’re not the first reader to point out the similarity between Oprah’s cover-pose and Barbara’s, or make the celebrity-as-goddess analogy. Every time I see a copy of O this month at the grocery store or on a newstand, I laugh. *g*
    Liz — I’m not sure that the Restoration is the New Regency (yet, anyway), but there are definitely more books being set in this time. In addition to the Diane Haeger book, there’s also Karlene Koen’s “Dark Angels”, which made a big splash last fall.
    As for today’s royals — I think Diana left an indelible mark on how the Windsors are viewed. For whatever reason, she could do no wrong in the public’s eyes, while Charles could/can do no right.
    And Kate Middleton: there was yet another actress (and another lovely Lely portrait) involved briefly with Charles II whose name was Mrs. Myddleton. Hmmmmm…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  14. Melinda — You’re not the first reader to point out the similarity between Oprah’s cover-pose and Barbara’s, or make the celebrity-as-goddess analogy. Every time I see a copy of O this month at the grocery store or on a newstand, I laugh. *g*
    Liz — I’m not sure that the Restoration is the New Regency (yet, anyway), but there are definitely more books being set in this time. In addition to the Diane Haeger book, there’s also Karlene Koen’s “Dark Angels”, which made a big splash last fall.
    As for today’s royals — I think Diana left an indelible mark on how the Windsors are viewed. For whatever reason, she could do no wrong in the public’s eyes, while Charles could/can do no right.
    And Kate Middleton: there was yet another actress (and another lovely Lely portrait) involved briefly with Charles II whose name was Mrs. Myddleton. Hmmmmm…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  15. Melinda — You’re not the first reader to point out the similarity between Oprah’s cover-pose and Barbara’s, or make the celebrity-as-goddess analogy. Every time I see a copy of O this month at the grocery store or on a newstand, I laugh. *g*
    Liz — I’m not sure that the Restoration is the New Regency (yet, anyway), but there are definitely more books being set in this time. In addition to the Diane Haeger book, there’s also Karlene Koen’s “Dark Angels”, which made a big splash last fall.
    As for today’s royals — I think Diana left an indelible mark on how the Windsors are viewed. For whatever reason, she could do no wrong in the public’s eyes, while Charles could/can do no right.
    And Kate Middleton: there was yet another actress (and another lovely Lely portrait) involved briefly with Charles II whose name was Mrs. Myddleton. Hmmmmm…..
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  16. Well, I think Charles is a victim of the media age. Charles is/was socially progressive, intelligent, he had his share of arm candy and married a trophy wife – but on tv he’s dull, dull, dull. With royalty of yore we can gloss over the visuals and go for the most flattering pictures (Except the Regency – no getting around that one) Charles is just not a great looking guy, he’s a bit hound dog in his demeanor. Di was pretty & went to concerts. By the time she kicked in the AIDS work, added on the wronged woman cloak and took the Mario T pics, she was working the press in a way Charles never understood. Their sons are pretty savvy in that regard as well.
    I dunno – I find the Windsors as fascinating (in their own way) as I do Charles 2, Henry 7 OR 8, or any of the others. It’s an odd little breed, British kings. And Charles the future 3rd has some things in common with the 2nd as well – much of your description would fit either man (the modern one being neither lazy, nor as far as we know poxed, but otherwise). But it’s a book cover I shudder to contemplate.

    Reply
  17. Well, I think Charles is a victim of the media age. Charles is/was socially progressive, intelligent, he had his share of arm candy and married a trophy wife – but on tv he’s dull, dull, dull. With royalty of yore we can gloss over the visuals and go for the most flattering pictures (Except the Regency – no getting around that one) Charles is just not a great looking guy, he’s a bit hound dog in his demeanor. Di was pretty & went to concerts. By the time she kicked in the AIDS work, added on the wronged woman cloak and took the Mario T pics, she was working the press in a way Charles never understood. Their sons are pretty savvy in that regard as well.
    I dunno – I find the Windsors as fascinating (in their own way) as I do Charles 2, Henry 7 OR 8, or any of the others. It’s an odd little breed, British kings. And Charles the future 3rd has some things in common with the 2nd as well – much of your description would fit either man (the modern one being neither lazy, nor as far as we know poxed, but otherwise). But it’s a book cover I shudder to contemplate.

    Reply
  18. Well, I think Charles is a victim of the media age. Charles is/was socially progressive, intelligent, he had his share of arm candy and married a trophy wife – but on tv he’s dull, dull, dull. With royalty of yore we can gloss over the visuals and go for the most flattering pictures (Except the Regency – no getting around that one) Charles is just not a great looking guy, he’s a bit hound dog in his demeanor. Di was pretty & went to concerts. By the time she kicked in the AIDS work, added on the wronged woman cloak and took the Mario T pics, she was working the press in a way Charles never understood. Their sons are pretty savvy in that regard as well.
    I dunno – I find the Windsors as fascinating (in their own way) as I do Charles 2, Henry 7 OR 8, or any of the others. It’s an odd little breed, British kings. And Charles the future 3rd has some things in common with the 2nd as well – much of your description would fit either man (the modern one being neither lazy, nor as far as we know poxed, but otherwise). But it’s a book cover I shudder to contemplate.

    Reply
  19. Well, I think Charles is a victim of the media age. Charles is/was socially progressive, intelligent, he had his share of arm candy and married a trophy wife – but on tv he’s dull, dull, dull. With royalty of yore we can gloss over the visuals and go for the most flattering pictures (Except the Regency – no getting around that one) Charles is just not a great looking guy, he’s a bit hound dog in his demeanor. Di was pretty & went to concerts. By the time she kicked in the AIDS work, added on the wronged woman cloak and took the Mario T pics, she was working the press in a way Charles never understood. Their sons are pretty savvy in that regard as well.
    I dunno – I find the Windsors as fascinating (in their own way) as I do Charles 2, Henry 7 OR 8, or any of the others. It’s an odd little breed, British kings. And Charles the future 3rd has some things in common with the 2nd as well – much of your description would fit either man (the modern one being neither lazy, nor as far as we know poxed, but otherwise). But it’s a book cover I shudder to contemplate.

    Reply
  20. Well, I think Charles is a victim of the media age. Charles is/was socially progressive, intelligent, he had his share of arm candy and married a trophy wife – but on tv he’s dull, dull, dull. With royalty of yore we can gloss over the visuals and go for the most flattering pictures (Except the Regency – no getting around that one) Charles is just not a great looking guy, he’s a bit hound dog in his demeanor. Di was pretty & went to concerts. By the time she kicked in the AIDS work, added on the wronged woman cloak and took the Mario T pics, she was working the press in a way Charles never understood. Their sons are pretty savvy in that regard as well.
    I dunno – I find the Windsors as fascinating (in their own way) as I do Charles 2, Henry 7 OR 8, or any of the others. It’s an odd little breed, British kings. And Charles the future 3rd has some things in common with the 2nd as well – much of your description would fit either man (the modern one being neither lazy, nor as far as we know poxed, but otherwise). But it’s a book cover I shudder to contemplate.

    Reply
  21. Charles II. was safely married and enjoyed his Royal harlots whilst the future Charles III. (or George VII. out of respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the British throne) was married to a harlot in his first marriage and made his mistress his second Royal wife…

    Reply
  22. Charles II. was safely married and enjoyed his Royal harlots whilst the future Charles III. (or George VII. out of respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the British throne) was married to a harlot in his first marriage and made his mistress his second Royal wife…

    Reply
  23. Charles II. was safely married and enjoyed his Royal harlots whilst the future Charles III. (or George VII. out of respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the British throne) was married to a harlot in his first marriage and made his mistress his second Royal wife…

    Reply
  24. Charles II. was safely married and enjoyed his Royal harlots whilst the future Charles III. (or George VII. out of respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the British throne) was married to a harlot in his first marriage and made his mistress his second Royal wife…

    Reply
  25. Charles II. was safely married and enjoyed his Royal harlots whilst the future Charles III. (or George VII. out of respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim to the British throne) was married to a harlot in his first marriage and made his mistress his second Royal wife…

    Reply
  26. I’m sure that the gaiety of the Resotration was a relief after the years of pursed-lip disapproval of everything “worldly” under the Roundheads. But it went too far the other way. When the work of the government isn’t done or it’s done poorly because the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the nation are too busy playing and wasting money, the common people reach the end of their patience. At least they didn’t behead this king. I look forward to reaing “Royal Harlot”. It’s in my TBR pile waiting for summer school to be over and vacation to start.

    Reply
  27. I’m sure that the gaiety of the Resotration was a relief after the years of pursed-lip disapproval of everything “worldly” under the Roundheads. But it went too far the other way. When the work of the government isn’t done or it’s done poorly because the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the nation are too busy playing and wasting money, the common people reach the end of their patience. At least they didn’t behead this king. I look forward to reaing “Royal Harlot”. It’s in my TBR pile waiting for summer school to be over and vacation to start.

    Reply
  28. I’m sure that the gaiety of the Resotration was a relief after the years of pursed-lip disapproval of everything “worldly” under the Roundheads. But it went too far the other way. When the work of the government isn’t done or it’s done poorly because the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the nation are too busy playing and wasting money, the common people reach the end of their patience. At least they didn’t behead this king. I look forward to reaing “Royal Harlot”. It’s in my TBR pile waiting for summer school to be over and vacation to start.

    Reply
  29. I’m sure that the gaiety of the Resotration was a relief after the years of pursed-lip disapproval of everything “worldly” under the Roundheads. But it went too far the other way. When the work of the government isn’t done or it’s done poorly because the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the nation are too busy playing and wasting money, the common people reach the end of their patience. At least they didn’t behead this king. I look forward to reaing “Royal Harlot”. It’s in my TBR pile waiting for summer school to be over and vacation to start.

    Reply
  30. I’m sure that the gaiety of the Resotration was a relief after the years of pursed-lip disapproval of everything “worldly” under the Roundheads. But it went too far the other way. When the work of the government isn’t done or it’s done poorly because the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the nation are too busy playing and wasting money, the common people reach the end of their patience. At least they didn’t behead this king. I look forward to reaing “Royal Harlot”. It’s in my TBR pile waiting for summer school to be over and vacation to start.

    Reply
  31. >>Loretta asked: What do you think, readers? Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about? Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the “Great Imperial Whore”?<< Well, I'm not bold or daring at all; and in a cut-throat environment, mine would probably be the first throat to go. So, my tendency would be to sympathize with the marginalized queen. Not that I can't grudgingly admire the dazzling mistress. 🙂 I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I've always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures. But "official" histories are really pretty skewed anyway so I think it's about time I let go of that idea. Now, I've got a lot of backlist reading to do.

    Reply
  32. >>Loretta asked: What do you think, readers? Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about? Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the “Great Imperial Whore”?<< Well, I'm not bold or daring at all; and in a cut-throat environment, mine would probably be the first throat to go. So, my tendency would be to sympathize with the marginalized queen. Not that I can't grudgingly admire the dazzling mistress. 🙂 I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I've always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures. But "official" histories are really pretty skewed anyway so I think it's about time I let go of that idea. Now, I've got a lot of backlist reading to do.

    Reply
  33. >>Loretta asked: What do you think, readers? Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about? Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the “Great Imperial Whore”?<< Well, I'm not bold or daring at all; and in a cut-throat environment, mine would probably be the first throat to go. So, my tendency would be to sympathize with the marginalized queen. Not that I can't grudgingly admire the dazzling mistress. 🙂 I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I've always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures. But "official" histories are really pretty skewed anyway so I think it's about time I let go of that idea. Now, I've got a lot of backlist reading to do.

    Reply
  34. >>Loretta asked: What do you think, readers? Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about? Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the “Great Imperial Whore”?<< Well, I'm not bold or daring at all; and in a cut-throat environment, mine would probably be the first throat to go. So, my tendency would be to sympathize with the marginalized queen. Not that I can't grudgingly admire the dazzling mistress. 🙂 I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I've always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures. But "official" histories are really pretty skewed anyway so I think it's about time I let go of that idea. Now, I've got a lot of backlist reading to do.

    Reply
  35. >>Loretta asked: What do you think, readers? Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about? Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the “Great Imperial Whore”?<< Well, I'm not bold or daring at all; and in a cut-throat environment, mine would probably be the first throat to go. So, my tendency would be to sympathize with the marginalized queen. Not that I can't grudgingly admire the dazzling mistress. 🙂 I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I've always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures. But "official" histories are really pretty skewed anyway so I think it's about time I let go of that idea. Now, I've got a lot of backlist reading to do.

    Reply
  36. I suspect that the major difference between Charles II and the current Royals is that today’s Royals are essentially irrelevant. They don’t really have much to do except attend things and make official visits. They can bring problems to public attention, but so can Madonna or Bono or any celebrity.
    Charles II actually had a country to rule, and I think how well he managed that is often underestimated, so that people view him as nothing more than the Merrie Monarch. He took a country that had been torn by civil war and was still rent by religious differences that went far deeper than our political differences today, nasty though these sometimes are. (The closest analogy is probably the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Arab world.) Anyway, Charles provided his country with 25 years of relative peace and tranquility — no mean feat. And if no one was entirely happy, if many thought the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion meant indemnity for his enemies and oblivion for his friends, well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Unfortunately, brother James lacked Charles’ intelligence and common sense.

    Reply
  37. I suspect that the major difference between Charles II and the current Royals is that today’s Royals are essentially irrelevant. They don’t really have much to do except attend things and make official visits. They can bring problems to public attention, but so can Madonna or Bono or any celebrity.
    Charles II actually had a country to rule, and I think how well he managed that is often underestimated, so that people view him as nothing more than the Merrie Monarch. He took a country that had been torn by civil war and was still rent by religious differences that went far deeper than our political differences today, nasty though these sometimes are. (The closest analogy is probably the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Arab world.) Anyway, Charles provided his country with 25 years of relative peace and tranquility — no mean feat. And if no one was entirely happy, if many thought the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion meant indemnity for his enemies and oblivion for his friends, well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Unfortunately, brother James lacked Charles’ intelligence and common sense.

    Reply
  38. I suspect that the major difference between Charles II and the current Royals is that today’s Royals are essentially irrelevant. They don’t really have much to do except attend things and make official visits. They can bring problems to public attention, but so can Madonna or Bono or any celebrity.
    Charles II actually had a country to rule, and I think how well he managed that is often underestimated, so that people view him as nothing more than the Merrie Monarch. He took a country that had been torn by civil war and was still rent by religious differences that went far deeper than our political differences today, nasty though these sometimes are. (The closest analogy is probably the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Arab world.) Anyway, Charles provided his country with 25 years of relative peace and tranquility — no mean feat. And if no one was entirely happy, if many thought the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion meant indemnity for his enemies and oblivion for his friends, well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Unfortunately, brother James lacked Charles’ intelligence and common sense.

    Reply
  39. I suspect that the major difference between Charles II and the current Royals is that today’s Royals are essentially irrelevant. They don’t really have much to do except attend things and make official visits. They can bring problems to public attention, but so can Madonna or Bono or any celebrity.
    Charles II actually had a country to rule, and I think how well he managed that is often underestimated, so that people view him as nothing more than the Merrie Monarch. He took a country that had been torn by civil war and was still rent by religious differences that went far deeper than our political differences today, nasty though these sometimes are. (The closest analogy is probably the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Arab world.) Anyway, Charles provided his country with 25 years of relative peace and tranquility — no mean feat. And if no one was entirely happy, if many thought the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion meant indemnity for his enemies and oblivion for his friends, well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Unfortunately, brother James lacked Charles’ intelligence and common sense.

    Reply
  40. I suspect that the major difference between Charles II and the current Royals is that today’s Royals are essentially irrelevant. They don’t really have much to do except attend things and make official visits. They can bring problems to public attention, but so can Madonna or Bono or any celebrity.
    Charles II actually had a country to rule, and I think how well he managed that is often underestimated, so that people view him as nothing more than the Merrie Monarch. He took a country that had been torn by civil war and was still rent by religious differences that went far deeper than our political differences today, nasty though these sometimes are. (The closest analogy is probably the differences between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Arab world.) Anyway, Charles provided his country with 25 years of relative peace and tranquility — no mean feat. And if no one was entirely happy, if many thought the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion meant indemnity for his enemies and oblivion for his friends, well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    Unfortunately, brother James lacked Charles’ intelligence and common sense.

    Reply
  41. Perhaps the younger Windsors – Harry and William – will start to shine more as personalities as they grow up. I can’t help but think that their individuality is compromised by constant comparisons to their late mother…and also by the overshadowing influence of the Queen. That being said…not that I wish to deprive Charles of his birthright…I somehow sort of wish the crown could skip to William, whenever that day should come. I think he’d be a very good monarch. Brisk and modern. Not to mention having the whole single “Prince Charming” thing going for him. 😉 The Kennedys were our royalty, especially when they were young and beautiful…and in a society where that’s admired (everywhere, virtually, these days), it makes me wonder if the glamour of the monarchy could return with a return of the young and beautiful. Otherwise…we’ll just see an aging Charles, more and more dull and tendentious, and an aging Wills and Harry. Nothing to excite the British populace there. Much more likely to make them want to banish the monarchy forever.

    Reply
  42. Perhaps the younger Windsors – Harry and William – will start to shine more as personalities as they grow up. I can’t help but think that their individuality is compromised by constant comparisons to their late mother…and also by the overshadowing influence of the Queen. That being said…not that I wish to deprive Charles of his birthright…I somehow sort of wish the crown could skip to William, whenever that day should come. I think he’d be a very good monarch. Brisk and modern. Not to mention having the whole single “Prince Charming” thing going for him. 😉 The Kennedys were our royalty, especially when they were young and beautiful…and in a society where that’s admired (everywhere, virtually, these days), it makes me wonder if the glamour of the monarchy could return with a return of the young and beautiful. Otherwise…we’ll just see an aging Charles, more and more dull and tendentious, and an aging Wills and Harry. Nothing to excite the British populace there. Much more likely to make them want to banish the monarchy forever.

    Reply
  43. Perhaps the younger Windsors – Harry and William – will start to shine more as personalities as they grow up. I can’t help but think that their individuality is compromised by constant comparisons to their late mother…and also by the overshadowing influence of the Queen. That being said…not that I wish to deprive Charles of his birthright…I somehow sort of wish the crown could skip to William, whenever that day should come. I think he’d be a very good monarch. Brisk and modern. Not to mention having the whole single “Prince Charming” thing going for him. 😉 The Kennedys were our royalty, especially when they were young and beautiful…and in a society where that’s admired (everywhere, virtually, these days), it makes me wonder if the glamour of the monarchy could return with a return of the young and beautiful. Otherwise…we’ll just see an aging Charles, more and more dull and tendentious, and an aging Wills and Harry. Nothing to excite the British populace there. Much more likely to make them want to banish the monarchy forever.

    Reply
  44. Perhaps the younger Windsors – Harry and William – will start to shine more as personalities as they grow up. I can’t help but think that their individuality is compromised by constant comparisons to their late mother…and also by the overshadowing influence of the Queen. That being said…not that I wish to deprive Charles of his birthright…I somehow sort of wish the crown could skip to William, whenever that day should come. I think he’d be a very good monarch. Brisk and modern. Not to mention having the whole single “Prince Charming” thing going for him. 😉 The Kennedys were our royalty, especially when they were young and beautiful…and in a society where that’s admired (everywhere, virtually, these days), it makes me wonder if the glamour of the monarchy could return with a return of the young and beautiful. Otherwise…we’ll just see an aging Charles, more and more dull and tendentious, and an aging Wills and Harry. Nothing to excite the British populace there. Much more likely to make them want to banish the monarchy forever.

    Reply
  45. Perhaps the younger Windsors – Harry and William – will start to shine more as personalities as they grow up. I can’t help but think that their individuality is compromised by constant comparisons to their late mother…and also by the overshadowing influence of the Queen. That being said…not that I wish to deprive Charles of his birthright…I somehow sort of wish the crown could skip to William, whenever that day should come. I think he’d be a very good monarch. Brisk and modern. Not to mention having the whole single “Prince Charming” thing going for him. 😉 The Kennedys were our royalty, especially when they were young and beautiful…and in a society where that’s admired (everywhere, virtually, these days), it makes me wonder if the glamour of the monarchy could return with a return of the young and beautiful. Otherwise…we’ll just see an aging Charles, more and more dull and tendentious, and an aging Wills and Harry. Nothing to excite the British populace there. Much more likely to make them want to banish the monarchy forever.

    Reply
  46. It’s true, the current royals don’t really have much to do — to Americans, they seem to exist to open hospitals and Parliament, generate tourist-business, attend Ascot, and offer the gossip-fodder to balance out what’s happening in Hollywood. The Queen doesn’t have any real political power left at all, not compared to her predecessors.
    Jane O, you’re a Charles-fan, too, I see. *g* While it’s easier to trivialize his reign, as you note, he did manage some very savvy political and social balancing to return England to the right course. Victorian historians don’t seem to have had much respect for him, dismissing him for being a moral light-weight, and unfortunately those 19th century worthies continue to color too much of history. Far better, and kinder, to Charles’s legacy is the Antonia Fraser bio of him, ROYAL CHARLES. Fun reading, too, because she’s such a splendid writer….
    I agree, Lise, that having the current Charles step aside for Wills would enliven the monarchy with a bit of youth. That was much of the appeal of Charles II — he was still a young man at 30, with a considerable amount of “glamor” (for lack of a better word!), esp. after the Puritans.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  47. It’s true, the current royals don’t really have much to do — to Americans, they seem to exist to open hospitals and Parliament, generate tourist-business, attend Ascot, and offer the gossip-fodder to balance out what’s happening in Hollywood. The Queen doesn’t have any real political power left at all, not compared to her predecessors.
    Jane O, you’re a Charles-fan, too, I see. *g* While it’s easier to trivialize his reign, as you note, he did manage some very savvy political and social balancing to return England to the right course. Victorian historians don’t seem to have had much respect for him, dismissing him for being a moral light-weight, and unfortunately those 19th century worthies continue to color too much of history. Far better, and kinder, to Charles’s legacy is the Antonia Fraser bio of him, ROYAL CHARLES. Fun reading, too, because she’s such a splendid writer….
    I agree, Lise, that having the current Charles step aside for Wills would enliven the monarchy with a bit of youth. That was much of the appeal of Charles II — he was still a young man at 30, with a considerable amount of “glamor” (for lack of a better word!), esp. after the Puritans.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  48. It’s true, the current royals don’t really have much to do — to Americans, they seem to exist to open hospitals and Parliament, generate tourist-business, attend Ascot, and offer the gossip-fodder to balance out what’s happening in Hollywood. The Queen doesn’t have any real political power left at all, not compared to her predecessors.
    Jane O, you’re a Charles-fan, too, I see. *g* While it’s easier to trivialize his reign, as you note, he did manage some very savvy political and social balancing to return England to the right course. Victorian historians don’t seem to have had much respect for him, dismissing him for being a moral light-weight, and unfortunately those 19th century worthies continue to color too much of history. Far better, and kinder, to Charles’s legacy is the Antonia Fraser bio of him, ROYAL CHARLES. Fun reading, too, because she’s such a splendid writer….
    I agree, Lise, that having the current Charles step aside for Wills would enliven the monarchy with a bit of youth. That was much of the appeal of Charles II — he was still a young man at 30, with a considerable amount of “glamor” (for lack of a better word!), esp. after the Puritans.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  49. It’s true, the current royals don’t really have much to do — to Americans, they seem to exist to open hospitals and Parliament, generate tourist-business, attend Ascot, and offer the gossip-fodder to balance out what’s happening in Hollywood. The Queen doesn’t have any real political power left at all, not compared to her predecessors.
    Jane O, you’re a Charles-fan, too, I see. *g* While it’s easier to trivialize his reign, as you note, he did manage some very savvy political and social balancing to return England to the right course. Victorian historians don’t seem to have had much respect for him, dismissing him for being a moral light-weight, and unfortunately those 19th century worthies continue to color too much of history. Far better, and kinder, to Charles’s legacy is the Antonia Fraser bio of him, ROYAL CHARLES. Fun reading, too, because she’s such a splendid writer….
    I agree, Lise, that having the current Charles step aside for Wills would enliven the monarchy with a bit of youth. That was much of the appeal of Charles II — he was still a young man at 30, with a considerable amount of “glamor” (for lack of a better word!), esp. after the Puritans.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  50. It’s true, the current royals don’t really have much to do — to Americans, they seem to exist to open hospitals and Parliament, generate tourist-business, attend Ascot, and offer the gossip-fodder to balance out what’s happening in Hollywood. The Queen doesn’t have any real political power left at all, not compared to her predecessors.
    Jane O, you’re a Charles-fan, too, I see. *g* While it’s easier to trivialize his reign, as you note, he did manage some very savvy political and social balancing to return England to the right course. Victorian historians don’t seem to have had much respect for him, dismissing him for being a moral light-weight, and unfortunately those 19th century worthies continue to color too much of history. Far better, and kinder, to Charles’s legacy is the Antonia Fraser bio of him, ROYAL CHARLES. Fun reading, too, because she’s such a splendid writer….
    I agree, Lise, that having the current Charles step aside for Wills would enliven the monarchy with a bit of youth. That was much of the appeal of Charles II — he was still a young man at 30, with a considerable amount of “glamor” (for lack of a better word!), esp. after the Puritans.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  51. Kalen wrote: “I love the Restoration period, and I’m soaking up all your comments on how you approached writing this kind of historical fiction like a sponge.”
    I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Kalen — it’s what us history-nerds are put on this earth to do. *g*
    MaryK wrote:”I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I’ve always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures.”
    MaryK, I’m glad we’ve changed your mind! Truth is, I think most of us Wenches found our way into history via good historical fiction. Sometimes it’s more fiction than history, while others lean more towards historical fact. But however a writer brings the dusty facts to life is good for the reader — and for history, too.
    One of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading) historical fiction is that all the writers writing a novel about a particular event or person are given pretty much the same characters, setting, and action with which to work, yet everyone interprets those components in a different way.
    On Monday, I’m interviewing guest wench Karen Harper. Her historical novel, “The Last Boleyn”, is a very different version of that famous family than the way that Philippa Gregory imagined it. And while Barbara Palmer turns up in every novel about the Restoration, my interpretation of her is waaaaayy out in left-field by comparison. Which is “right” and which is “wrong”? That’s the fun part for the reader to decide. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  52. Kalen wrote: “I love the Restoration period, and I’m soaking up all your comments on how you approached writing this kind of historical fiction like a sponge.”
    I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Kalen — it’s what us history-nerds are put on this earth to do. *g*
    MaryK wrote:”I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I’ve always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures.”
    MaryK, I’m glad we’ve changed your mind! Truth is, I think most of us Wenches found our way into history via good historical fiction. Sometimes it’s more fiction than history, while others lean more towards historical fact. But however a writer brings the dusty facts to life is good for the reader — and for history, too.
    One of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading) historical fiction is that all the writers writing a novel about a particular event or person are given pretty much the same characters, setting, and action with which to work, yet everyone interprets those components in a different way.
    On Monday, I’m interviewing guest wench Karen Harper. Her historical novel, “The Last Boleyn”, is a very different version of that famous family than the way that Philippa Gregory imagined it. And while Barbara Palmer turns up in every novel about the Restoration, my interpretation of her is waaaaayy out in left-field by comparison. Which is “right” and which is “wrong”? That’s the fun part for the reader to decide. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  53. Kalen wrote: “I love the Restoration period, and I’m soaking up all your comments on how you approached writing this kind of historical fiction like a sponge.”
    I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Kalen — it’s what us history-nerds are put on this earth to do. *g*
    MaryK wrote:”I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I’ve always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures.”
    MaryK, I’m glad we’ve changed your mind! Truth is, I think most of us Wenches found our way into history via good historical fiction. Sometimes it’s more fiction than history, while others lean more towards historical fact. But however a writer brings the dusty facts to life is good for the reader — and for history, too.
    One of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading) historical fiction is that all the writers writing a novel about a particular event or person are given pretty much the same characters, setting, and action with which to work, yet everyone interprets those components in a different way.
    On Monday, I’m interviewing guest wench Karen Harper. Her historical novel, “The Last Boleyn”, is a very different version of that famous family than the way that Philippa Gregory imagined it. And while Barbara Palmer turns up in every novel about the Restoration, my interpretation of her is waaaaayy out in left-field by comparison. Which is “right” and which is “wrong”? That’s the fun part for the reader to decide. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  54. Kalen wrote: “I love the Restoration period, and I’m soaking up all your comments on how you approached writing this kind of historical fiction like a sponge.”
    I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Kalen — it’s what us history-nerds are put on this earth to do. *g*
    MaryK wrote:”I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I’ve always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures.”
    MaryK, I’m glad we’ve changed your mind! Truth is, I think most of us Wenches found our way into history via good historical fiction. Sometimes it’s more fiction than history, while others lean more towards historical fact. But however a writer brings the dusty facts to life is good for the reader — and for history, too.
    One of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading) historical fiction is that all the writers writing a novel about a particular event or person are given pretty much the same characters, setting, and action with which to work, yet everyone interprets those components in a different way.
    On Monday, I’m interviewing guest wench Karen Harper. Her historical novel, “The Last Boleyn”, is a very different version of that famous family than the way that Philippa Gregory imagined it. And while Barbara Palmer turns up in every novel about the Restoration, my interpretation of her is waaaaayy out in left-field by comparison. Which is “right” and which is “wrong”? That’s the fun part for the reader to decide. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  55. Kalen wrote: “I love the Restoration period, and I’m soaking up all your comments on how you approached writing this kind of historical fiction like a sponge.”
    I’m glad you’re enjoying this, Kalen — it’s what us history-nerds are put on this earth to do. *g*
    MaryK wrote:”I must say that all these great historical Wench novels have finally worn down my prejudice against novelized biographies. I’ve always been afraid that I would pick up false impressions from fictionalized accounts of historical figures.”
    MaryK, I’m glad we’ve changed your mind! Truth is, I think most of us Wenches found our way into history via good historical fiction. Sometimes it’s more fiction than history, while others lean more towards historical fact. But however a writer brings the dusty facts to life is good for the reader — and for history, too.
    One of the most interesting parts of writing (and reading) historical fiction is that all the writers writing a novel about a particular event or person are given pretty much the same characters, setting, and action with which to work, yet everyone interprets those components in a different way.
    On Monday, I’m interviewing guest wench Karen Harper. Her historical novel, “The Last Boleyn”, is a very different version of that famous family than the way that Philippa Gregory imagined it. And while Barbara Palmer turns up in every novel about the Restoration, my interpretation of her is waaaaayy out in left-field by comparison. Which is “right” and which is “wrong”? That’s the fun part for the reader to decide. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  56. I feel so bad for Prince Charles. Like so many other heirs to the throne and monarchs before him, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved, and–most unfortunately for him– the woman he did marry first was an expert media manipulator. In the old days, it was understood that monarchs married for political reasons, and royal mistresses were a logical consequence. Too, male adultery was more or less expected. Nowadays, the heir to the throne still has to marry according to the old rules (at least the first time and/or until he gets heirs) but is expected to live by stricter modern standards for marital fidelity. As was the case even in Charles II’s time, though, things were different outside England. As Susan points out in her book, in France, “the King’s Mistress” was an official post. As to women’s behavior: as I have discovered, Italian married ladies were not only allowed to have a lover (or two or three), but this was often written into their marriage contracts!

    Reply
  57. I feel so bad for Prince Charles. Like so many other heirs to the throne and monarchs before him, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved, and–most unfortunately for him– the woman he did marry first was an expert media manipulator. In the old days, it was understood that monarchs married for political reasons, and royal mistresses were a logical consequence. Too, male adultery was more or less expected. Nowadays, the heir to the throne still has to marry according to the old rules (at least the first time and/or until he gets heirs) but is expected to live by stricter modern standards for marital fidelity. As was the case even in Charles II’s time, though, things were different outside England. As Susan points out in her book, in France, “the King’s Mistress” was an official post. As to women’s behavior: as I have discovered, Italian married ladies were not only allowed to have a lover (or two or three), but this was often written into their marriage contracts!

    Reply
  58. I feel so bad for Prince Charles. Like so many other heirs to the throne and monarchs before him, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved, and–most unfortunately for him– the woman he did marry first was an expert media manipulator. In the old days, it was understood that monarchs married for political reasons, and royal mistresses were a logical consequence. Too, male adultery was more or less expected. Nowadays, the heir to the throne still has to marry according to the old rules (at least the first time and/or until he gets heirs) but is expected to live by stricter modern standards for marital fidelity. As was the case even in Charles II’s time, though, things were different outside England. As Susan points out in her book, in France, “the King’s Mistress” was an official post. As to women’s behavior: as I have discovered, Italian married ladies were not only allowed to have a lover (or two or three), but this was often written into their marriage contracts!

    Reply
  59. I feel so bad for Prince Charles. Like so many other heirs to the throne and monarchs before him, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved, and–most unfortunately for him– the woman he did marry first was an expert media manipulator. In the old days, it was understood that monarchs married for political reasons, and royal mistresses were a logical consequence. Too, male adultery was more or less expected. Nowadays, the heir to the throne still has to marry according to the old rules (at least the first time and/or until he gets heirs) but is expected to live by stricter modern standards for marital fidelity. As was the case even in Charles II’s time, though, things were different outside England. As Susan points out in her book, in France, “the King’s Mistress” was an official post. As to women’s behavior: as I have discovered, Italian married ladies were not only allowed to have a lover (or two or three), but this was often written into their marriage contracts!

    Reply
  60. I feel so bad for Prince Charles. Like so many other heirs to the throne and monarchs before him, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved, and–most unfortunately for him– the woman he did marry first was an expert media manipulator. In the old days, it was understood that monarchs married for political reasons, and royal mistresses were a logical consequence. Too, male adultery was more or less expected. Nowadays, the heir to the throne still has to marry according to the old rules (at least the first time and/or until he gets heirs) but is expected to live by stricter modern standards for marital fidelity. As was the case even in Charles II’s time, though, things were different outside England. As Susan points out in her book, in France, “the King’s Mistress” was an official post. As to women’s behavior: as I have discovered, Italian married ladies were not only allowed to have a lover (or two or three), but this was often written into their marriage contracts!

    Reply
  61. I’m not an expert on Prince Charles’s love life – perish the thought! – but didn’t he and Camilla meet at university and have an affair? Then they parted and she got married to someone else. Then he had second thoughts. That’s not tragic, that’s stupid.
    I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve. That may have been nothing out of the ordinary for the time, but here and now is a different kettle of fish. Luckily she didn’t become Charles II’s mistress until she was 18, but he was twenty years older. I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?

    Reply
  62. I’m not an expert on Prince Charles’s love life – perish the thought! – but didn’t he and Camilla meet at university and have an affair? Then they parted and she got married to someone else. Then he had second thoughts. That’s not tragic, that’s stupid.
    I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve. That may have been nothing out of the ordinary for the time, but here and now is a different kettle of fish. Luckily she didn’t become Charles II’s mistress until she was 18, but he was twenty years older. I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?

    Reply
  63. I’m not an expert on Prince Charles’s love life – perish the thought! – but didn’t he and Camilla meet at university and have an affair? Then they parted and she got married to someone else. Then he had second thoughts. That’s not tragic, that’s stupid.
    I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve. That may have been nothing out of the ordinary for the time, but here and now is a different kettle of fish. Luckily she didn’t become Charles II’s mistress until she was 18, but he was twenty years older. I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?

    Reply
  64. I’m not an expert on Prince Charles’s love life – perish the thought! – but didn’t he and Camilla meet at university and have an affair? Then they parted and she got married to someone else. Then he had second thoughts. That’s not tragic, that’s stupid.
    I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve. That may have been nothing out of the ordinary for the time, but here and now is a different kettle of fish. Luckily she didn’t become Charles II’s mistress until she was 18, but he was twenty years older. I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?

    Reply
  65. I’m not an expert on Prince Charles’s love life – perish the thought! – but didn’t he and Camilla meet at university and have an affair? Then they parted and she got married to someone else. Then he had second thoughts. That’s not tragic, that’s stupid.
    I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve. That may have been nothing out of the ordinary for the time, but here and now is a different kettle of fish. Luckily she didn’t become Charles II’s mistress until she was 18, but he was twenty years older. I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?

    Reply
  66. Ingrid: In defense of Prince Charles–I did a lot more than one stupid thing in college. Probably a great many of us did. Apparently, the human brain isn’t even completely mature in our early 20s–which explains a lot. I know there’s a lot in the life of a royal to compensate, but I think he paid dearly for that immaturity.

    Reply
  67. Ingrid: In defense of Prince Charles–I did a lot more than one stupid thing in college. Probably a great many of us did. Apparently, the human brain isn’t even completely mature in our early 20s–which explains a lot. I know there’s a lot in the life of a royal to compensate, but I think he paid dearly for that immaturity.

    Reply
  68. Ingrid: In defense of Prince Charles–I did a lot more than one stupid thing in college. Probably a great many of us did. Apparently, the human brain isn’t even completely mature in our early 20s–which explains a lot. I know there’s a lot in the life of a royal to compensate, but I think he paid dearly for that immaturity.

    Reply
  69. Ingrid: In defense of Prince Charles–I did a lot more than one stupid thing in college. Probably a great many of us did. Apparently, the human brain isn’t even completely mature in our early 20s–which explains a lot. I know there’s a lot in the life of a royal to compensate, but I think he paid dearly for that immaturity.

    Reply
  70. Ingrid: In defense of Prince Charles–I did a lot more than one stupid thing in college. Probably a great many of us did. Apparently, the human brain isn’t even completely mature in our early 20s–which explains a lot. I know there’s a lot in the life of a royal to compensate, but I think he paid dearly for that immaturity.

    Reply
  71. I feel wretchedly cynical, but the older I get the more I think absolute fidelity within marriage is an ideal which few can master. Because we live so very much longer now means being with one person for decades, which can be boring. The fact that Charles stuck by Camilla in his fashion says something (I’m just not sure what).
    We’ve still got that Puritan overlay of sex=love=marriage. I’m by no means ready to pitch emotions aside for pure physicality, but I enjoy reading about men and women who didn’t let a little disapproval and a few rules stop them. Bring on the bad girls and guys!

    Reply
  72. I feel wretchedly cynical, but the older I get the more I think absolute fidelity within marriage is an ideal which few can master. Because we live so very much longer now means being with one person for decades, which can be boring. The fact that Charles stuck by Camilla in his fashion says something (I’m just not sure what).
    We’ve still got that Puritan overlay of sex=love=marriage. I’m by no means ready to pitch emotions aside for pure physicality, but I enjoy reading about men and women who didn’t let a little disapproval and a few rules stop them. Bring on the bad girls and guys!

    Reply
  73. I feel wretchedly cynical, but the older I get the more I think absolute fidelity within marriage is an ideal which few can master. Because we live so very much longer now means being with one person for decades, which can be boring. The fact that Charles stuck by Camilla in his fashion says something (I’m just not sure what).
    We’ve still got that Puritan overlay of sex=love=marriage. I’m by no means ready to pitch emotions aside for pure physicality, but I enjoy reading about men and women who didn’t let a little disapproval and a few rules stop them. Bring on the bad girls and guys!

    Reply
  74. I feel wretchedly cynical, but the older I get the more I think absolute fidelity within marriage is an ideal which few can master. Because we live so very much longer now means being with one person for decades, which can be boring. The fact that Charles stuck by Camilla in his fashion says something (I’m just not sure what).
    We’ve still got that Puritan overlay of sex=love=marriage. I’m by no means ready to pitch emotions aside for pure physicality, but I enjoy reading about men and women who didn’t let a little disapproval and a few rules stop them. Bring on the bad girls and guys!

    Reply
  75. I feel wretchedly cynical, but the older I get the more I think absolute fidelity within marriage is an ideal which few can master. Because we live so very much longer now means being with one person for decades, which can be boring. The fact that Charles stuck by Camilla in his fashion says something (I’m just not sure what).
    We’ve still got that Puritan overlay of sex=love=marriage. I’m by no means ready to pitch emotions aside for pure physicality, but I enjoy reading about men and women who didn’t let a little disapproval and a few rules stop them. Bring on the bad girls and guys!

    Reply
  76. Ingrid wrote: “I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve…I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?”
    It is indeed. Twelve is too young by the standards of any time, IMHO.
    But that challenge is a very good way to describe the differences between historical fiction and historical romance. Nell’s life was, alas, all too common in the 1660s. She was poor, illiterate, likely illegitimate, and malnourished –– a barefoot waif on the streets of London. She had been born and lived all her short life in a brothel, her mother was an alcoholic, abusive prostitute, her older sister (by two years) was already also a prostitute, and her father was dead.
    Now if I were writing Nell as the heroine of a historical romance, she would show great courage, and against all odds keep her innocence until Mr. Right appeared to sweep her away.
    But writing her story as historical fiction, I have to include the unpleasant facts as well as the fun ones. Nell had to make the best of her lot, and she actually did well for herself. Instead of having her virginity auctioned off in the brothel and become a child-prostitue in the streets around Covent Garden, she chose to go into keeping with a merchant from the City. For the first time in her life, she had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, and shoes on her feet, and soon after she was able to move on to her job working in the theater. My guess is that being a twelve-year-old mistress was much more an economic choice of survival, rather than a moral one.
    I still say twelve’s far too young for any of that, but I hope I made Nell’s story “work” in the context of her life and times. And after that rocky start, her life does get MUCH better. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  77. Ingrid wrote: “I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve…I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?”
    It is indeed. Twelve is too young by the standards of any time, IMHO.
    But that challenge is a very good way to describe the differences between historical fiction and historical romance. Nell’s life was, alas, all too common in the 1660s. She was poor, illiterate, likely illegitimate, and malnourished –– a barefoot waif on the streets of London. She had been born and lived all her short life in a brothel, her mother was an alcoholic, abusive prostitute, her older sister (by two years) was already also a prostitute, and her father was dead.
    Now if I were writing Nell as the heroine of a historical romance, she would show great courage, and against all odds keep her innocence until Mr. Right appeared to sweep her away.
    But writing her story as historical fiction, I have to include the unpleasant facts as well as the fun ones. Nell had to make the best of her lot, and she actually did well for herself. Instead of having her virginity auctioned off in the brothel and become a child-prostitue in the streets around Covent Garden, she chose to go into keeping with a merchant from the City. For the first time in her life, she had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, and shoes on her feet, and soon after she was able to move on to her job working in the theater. My guess is that being a twelve-year-old mistress was much more an economic choice of survival, rather than a moral one.
    I still say twelve’s far too young for any of that, but I hope I made Nell’s story “work” in the context of her life and times. And after that rocky start, her life does get MUCH better. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  78. Ingrid wrote: “I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve…I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?”
    It is indeed. Twelve is too young by the standards of any time, IMHO.
    But that challenge is a very good way to describe the differences between historical fiction and historical romance. Nell’s life was, alas, all too common in the 1660s. She was poor, illiterate, likely illegitimate, and malnourished –– a barefoot waif on the streets of London. She had been born and lived all her short life in a brothel, her mother was an alcoholic, abusive prostitute, her older sister (by two years) was already also a prostitute, and her father was dead.
    Now if I were writing Nell as the heroine of a historical romance, she would show great courage, and against all odds keep her innocence until Mr. Right appeared to sweep her away.
    But writing her story as historical fiction, I have to include the unpleasant facts as well as the fun ones. Nell had to make the best of her lot, and she actually did well for herself. Instead of having her virginity auctioned off in the brothel and become a child-prostitue in the streets around Covent Garden, she chose to go into keeping with a merchant from the City. For the first time in her life, she had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, and shoes on her feet, and soon after she was able to move on to her job working in the theater. My guess is that being a twelve-year-old mistress was much more an economic choice of survival, rather than a moral one.
    I still say twelve’s far too young for any of that, but I hope I made Nell’s story “work” in the context of her life and times. And after that rocky start, her life does get MUCH better. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  79. Ingrid wrote: “I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve…I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?”
    It is indeed. Twelve is too young by the standards of any time, IMHO.
    But that challenge is a very good way to describe the differences between historical fiction and historical romance. Nell’s life was, alas, all too common in the 1660s. She was poor, illiterate, likely illegitimate, and malnourished –– a barefoot waif on the streets of London. She had been born and lived all her short life in a brothel, her mother was an alcoholic, abusive prostitute, her older sister (by two years) was already also a prostitute, and her father was dead.
    Now if I were writing Nell as the heroine of a historical romance, she would show great courage, and against all odds keep her innocence until Mr. Right appeared to sweep her away.
    But writing her story as historical fiction, I have to include the unpleasant facts as well as the fun ones. Nell had to make the best of her lot, and she actually did well for herself. Instead of having her virginity auctioned off in the brothel and become a child-prostitue in the streets around Covent Garden, she chose to go into keeping with a merchant from the City. For the first time in her life, she had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, and shoes on her feet, and soon after she was able to move on to her job working in the theater. My guess is that being a twelve-year-old mistress was much more an economic choice of survival, rather than a moral one.
    I still say twelve’s far too young for any of that, but I hope I made Nell’s story “work” in the context of her life and times. And after that rocky start, her life does get MUCH better. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  80. Ingrid wrote: “I read the Nell Gwynn entry on wikipedia, and it said she had her first lover at twelve…I was wondering if it isn’t very difficult to skate around modern sensibilities when dealing with these things?”
    It is indeed. Twelve is too young by the standards of any time, IMHO.
    But that challenge is a very good way to describe the differences between historical fiction and historical romance. Nell’s life was, alas, all too common in the 1660s. She was poor, illiterate, likely illegitimate, and malnourished –– a barefoot waif on the streets of London. She had been born and lived all her short life in a brothel, her mother was an alcoholic, abusive prostitute, her older sister (by two years) was already also a prostitute, and her father was dead.
    Now if I were writing Nell as the heroine of a historical romance, she would show great courage, and against all odds keep her innocence until Mr. Right appeared to sweep her away.
    But writing her story as historical fiction, I have to include the unpleasant facts as well as the fun ones. Nell had to make the best of her lot, and she actually did well for herself. Instead of having her virginity auctioned off in the brothel and become a child-prostitue in the streets around Covent Garden, she chose to go into keeping with a merchant from the City. For the first time in her life, she had enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, and shoes on her feet, and soon after she was able to move on to her job working in the theater. My guess is that being a twelve-year-old mistress was much more an economic choice of survival, rather than a moral one.
    I still say twelve’s far too young for any of that, but I hope I made Nell’s story “work” in the context of her life and times. And after that rocky start, her life does get MUCH better. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  81. Loretta: I’ll concede that doing stupid things comes natural to most of us, especially when young. I am certainly no exception.
    But Charles compounded his stupidity by proposing to a naive nineteen-year-old when he was in his thirties, seeing her just as a babymaking machine and getting peeved when the world proceeded to fall in love with her.
    It puts his uncle’s decision to give up the throne for a twice-divorced woman in perspective. At least he knew what he wanted and went for it, instead of dithering about spitefully.

    Reply
  82. Loretta: I’ll concede that doing stupid things comes natural to most of us, especially when young. I am certainly no exception.
    But Charles compounded his stupidity by proposing to a naive nineteen-year-old when he was in his thirties, seeing her just as a babymaking machine and getting peeved when the world proceeded to fall in love with her.
    It puts his uncle’s decision to give up the throne for a twice-divorced woman in perspective. At least he knew what he wanted and went for it, instead of dithering about spitefully.

    Reply
  83. Loretta: I’ll concede that doing stupid things comes natural to most of us, especially when young. I am certainly no exception.
    But Charles compounded his stupidity by proposing to a naive nineteen-year-old when he was in his thirties, seeing her just as a babymaking machine and getting peeved when the world proceeded to fall in love with her.
    It puts his uncle’s decision to give up the throne for a twice-divorced woman in perspective. At least he knew what he wanted and went for it, instead of dithering about spitefully.

    Reply
  84. Loretta: I’ll concede that doing stupid things comes natural to most of us, especially when young. I am certainly no exception.
    But Charles compounded his stupidity by proposing to a naive nineteen-year-old when he was in his thirties, seeing her just as a babymaking machine and getting peeved when the world proceeded to fall in love with her.
    It puts his uncle’s decision to give up the throne for a twice-divorced woman in perspective. At least he knew what he wanted and went for it, instead of dithering about spitefully.

    Reply
  85. Loretta: I’ll concede that doing stupid things comes natural to most of us, especially when young. I am certainly no exception.
    But Charles compounded his stupidity by proposing to a naive nineteen-year-old when he was in his thirties, seeing her just as a babymaking machine and getting peeved when the world proceeded to fall in love with her.
    It puts his uncle’s decision to give up the throne for a twice-divorced woman in perspective. At least he knew what he wanted and went for it, instead of dithering about spitefully.

    Reply
  86. PS I love Restoration Barbie! I used to covet the dress-up costumes in the back of the Barbie booklets of the sixties when I was a child. The peacock blue Guinevere dress is one that sticks in my mind to this day.

    Reply
  87. PS I love Restoration Barbie! I used to covet the dress-up costumes in the back of the Barbie booklets of the sixties when I was a child. The peacock blue Guinevere dress is one that sticks in my mind to this day.

    Reply
  88. PS I love Restoration Barbie! I used to covet the dress-up costumes in the back of the Barbie booklets of the sixties when I was a child. The peacock blue Guinevere dress is one that sticks in my mind to this day.

    Reply
  89. PS I love Restoration Barbie! I used to covet the dress-up costumes in the back of the Barbie booklets of the sixties when I was a child. The peacock blue Guinevere dress is one that sticks in my mind to this day.

    Reply
  90. PS I love Restoration Barbie! I used to covet the dress-up costumes in the back of the Barbie booklets of the sixties when I was a child. The peacock blue Guinevere dress is one that sticks in my mind to this day.

    Reply
  91. I believe I find it more fascinating to read about the royals of the past. Fergie and Pricess Diana were the only interesting persons of the royal family to me. But it’s fun to read about it all.

    Reply
  92. I believe I find it more fascinating to read about the royals of the past. Fergie and Pricess Diana were the only interesting persons of the royal family to me. But it’s fun to read about it all.

    Reply
  93. I believe I find it more fascinating to read about the royals of the past. Fergie and Pricess Diana were the only interesting persons of the royal family to me. But it’s fun to read about it all.

    Reply
  94. I believe I find it more fascinating to read about the royals of the past. Fergie and Pricess Diana were the only interesting persons of the royal family to me. But it’s fun to read about it all.

    Reply
  95. I believe I find it more fascinating to read about the royals of the past. Fergie and Pricess Diana were the only interesting persons of the royal family to me. But it’s fun to read about it all.

    Reply

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