Author: Marci Jefferson
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Publish Date: February 11, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.
Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.
On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom."
My Two Cents:
Before reading this book, I only vaguely knew who Frances Stuart was and really I knew more about her family that her herself. Frances' family is exiled to France where they play various roles in the court of the Sun King. The book really starts rolling when Frances returns to England and becomes mistress to the King. This book has so much going for it: a fantastic main character and a story filled with intriguing historical detail and a really great story.
Frances Stuart was known as a great beauty. The title of the book actually comes from the fact that she really was the face on England's coin. The portrait of Britannia was based on her, so you know she had to be absolutely gorgeous. I really liked Frances Stuart and I really like that the book was told from her perspective, which really drew me into the story. Frances is fiercely independent and when she sees something she wants, she goes after it. She realizes that she is in a potentially precarious position as the mistress to Charles II, especially since he has other mistresses. Also, it was never her choice to be Charles' mistress; she was supposed to keep Louis XIV in Charles' good graces. She realizes that she must perform this duty to the best of her ability. It was so interesting how she was able to position herself in Charles' court.
I loved the historical detail in this book! England was going through so many changes at the time and we get to see all of those changes through France's eyes. This book is definitely one that historical fiction fans are going to love!
I would be remiss to not tell you how much I adore this title. Know that this cover had no bearing on my thoughts on the book but I had to mention it! I want that dress. I'm not sure where I would wear it but I want that dress!
I am very excited to welcome Marci Jefferson here to A Bookish Affair today!
Meg, I’m delighted to be your guest on A Bookish Affair today! Thank you for having me, and for helping me get the word out there about my debut novel.
1. What inspired you to write about Frances Stuart?
I first learned about the Royal Stuarts during a stay in London. Someone happened to point out the Banqueting House where Charles I was beheaded. I was stunned – I thought kings always ordered the beheadings! I felt compelled to study everything about the Royal Stuarts that my professors neglected to teach me in Nursing School. Frances Stuart initially stood out as a woman who embraced her personal liberty in defiance of kings.
A few years later I read THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and became obsessed with the desire to do for the Stuarts what Philippa Gregory had done for the Tudors. I picked up my independent studies again and soon realized Frances Stuart’s independent streak matched the collective spirit of the Restoration age. Since she also happened to be the model for Britannia, I knew there was no better subject for a novel of Restoration England.
2. What was your research process like for the book? Did you find out any strange or interesting facts while you were doing your research?
I research way too much – before plotting, after plotting, before each scene, and for each detail. Each character has their own file, each location has its own diagram. It is the most exciting process for me, but sometimes becomes a means of procrastination.
A friend of mine once found a mysterious entry on Wikipedia referencing a Dutch television show about celebrity genealogy. It claimed one of their celebrities was related to Charles II through an illegitimate daughter he’d fathered by Frances Stuart. As you know, I research things to death. I was entirely certain Frances Stuart did not have a living daughter by Charles II, but this show made me doubt my entire body of work. I freaked out and proceeded to spend a LOT of time discovering the truth.
I had a letter translated into Dutch for the producers of the show in which I politely refuted their claim and asked for their sources or a thorough explanation. They responded saying that they no longer had a copy of the episode and therefore could not explain the genealogical connection. Nor did they offer the name of the genealogical expert they used. Therefore, since they were not able to support it, at this time I do not believe their mysterious claim.
That Wikipedia entry remained for about a year before someone (not me) removed it. But not before a major ancestry database website and a few blogs had copied the information for use on their own sites! This is a perfect example of how the facts are not always available, and why you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. It is why I do as much research as possible.
3. What was the hardest part about writing this book? What about the easiest?
All of the love scenes were difficult to write! But because there are differing opinions among historians about whether Frances really did-or-did-not sleep with the king, the physical progression of their relationship actually became important to my plot and her life as I imagined it.
The easiest part about writing this book…was moment I was finally able to announce to my supportive family and friends that a publisher had purchased it to make it available to the world!
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
The best advice is the simplest stuff from Writing 101 that tends to go in one ear and out the other - read the type of books you want to write, write every day, cut the parts readers skip, show don’t tell, have faith, and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
5. If you could bring 3 historical figures or fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
The three best choices come straight from the pages of GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN. Frances Stuart would do absolutely whatever it takes to get us off the island, Charles II had the largest fleet of Royal Navy ships, and the Duke of Richmond was rather skilled as an undercover pirate... just the kind of folks who could get us rescued in a hurry!
Follow the Rest of the Tour:
1/29 – giveaway, Devourer of Books: http://www.devourerofbooks.com/
1/31 – interview/giveaway, Literary, etc: http://literaryetc.com/
2/1 – review, A Bookish Libraria: http://abookishlibraria.blogspot.com/
2/3 – review, The Bookish Owl: http://thebookishowl.wordpress.com/
2/4 – review/giveaway, Writing the Renaissance: http://writingren.blogspot.com/
2/5 – interview, Writing the Renaissance: http://writingren.blogspot.com/
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2/7 – interview, Spann of Time: http://www.susanspann.com/
2/8 – review/giveaway, Passages to the Past: http://www.passagestothepast.com/
2/9 – review, Royal Reviews: http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/
2/10 – Picture This, SheReads: http://www.shereads.org/
2/10 – review/giveaway, The Lit Bitch: http://thelitbitch.com/
2/11 – review, Reading the Past: http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/
2/11 – interview/on-sale announcement, Enchanted by Josephine: http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.com/
2/11 – Three Favorite Things, USA TODAY’S Happy Ever After: http://www.usatoday.com/blog/happyeverafter/
2/12 – review/giveaway, Enchanted by Josephine: http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.com/
2/12 – review, Muse/Erika Robuck: http://www.erikarobuck.com/Blog.html
2/13 – review, Unabridged Chick: http://unabridged-expression.blogspot.com/
2/13 – interview/giveaway/excerpt, Harlequin Junkie: http://harlequinjunkie.com/
2/14 – interview, Unabridged Chick: http://unabridged-expression.blogspot.com/
2/15 – review, Historical Fiction Obsession: http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/
2/16 – review, Lesa’s Book Critiques: http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/
2/17 – review/interview, A Bookish Affair: http://abookishaffair.blogspot.com/
2/18 – review, Let Them Read Books: http://letthemreadbooks.blogspot.com/
2/19 – interview, Let Them Read Books: http://letthemreadbooks.blogspot.com/
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