Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson
ARC, Kindle, 336 pages
Thomas Dunne Books
February 11, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review
“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.”
I have read several books about Charles II and his women and somehow I have never heard of Frances Stuart! She was involved in two of the great courts of the time: Charles II of England and Louis XIV of France – so we are treated to peeking in on both of those courts and people. Frances was a different sort of character in this indulgent world – she was a woman with a conscience! She had standards, respect, and cared about what others thought about her and those around her. She was a breath of fresh air in this world; she wasn’t always grasping for something from someone.
In this novel, we also meet Charles’ significant mistress, Barbara Castlemaine, as well as his wife, Catherine of Braganza. Barbara freaked me out a little bit – she was overtly sexual and her attitude toward Frances was a little different than what I expected. I really liked the relationship between Frances and Catherine – there was respect between the two. I expected to see the rest of Charles’ mistresses waltz through the pages, but the others only get a few words or a quick reference at most.
There was also an exploration of the continuing religious upheaval of the time with regard to Catholics. We see how the Dowager Queen tried to turn Charles’ head back toward the Catholic cause and all of the legislative/religious issues.
In my opinion, Marci Jefferson’s greatest strength was her ability to create characters and situations that would really pull at your heart strings. There were two scenes that really stood out for me – the scene between Frances and Louis XIV where she turns him down and the scene between Frances and Charles II after her illness. There is such a sad sweetness to these scenes that you can’t help but be emotional while reading.
I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a slightly different take on the Restoration court. Great debut for Marci Jefferson and I look forward to what she will write in the future!
This is author Marci Jefferson’s debut novel. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
I also have the opportunity to offer a giveaway to you thanks to the publisher. Entries through the Rafflecopter below. Last day to enter is March 2nd. Good luck!
You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour at the following blogs (I’m one of the last stops):
1/29 – giveaway, Devourer of Books
1/31 – interview/giveaway, Literary, etc
2/1 – review, A Bookish Libraria
2/3 – review, The Bookish Owl
2/4 – review/giveaway, Writing the Renaissance
2/5 – interview, Writing the Renaissance
2/6 – interview, Between the Sheets/Heather Webb
2/7 – interview, Spann of Time
2/8 – review/giveaway, Passages to the Past
2/9 – review, Royal Reviews
2/10 – Picture This, SheReads
2/10 – review/giveaway, The Lit Bitch
2/11 – review, Reading the Past
2/11 – interview/on-sale announcement, Enchanted by Josephine
2/11 – Three Favorite Things, USA TODAY’S Happy Ever After
2/12 – review/giveaway, Enchanted by Josephine
2/12 – review, Muse/Erika Robuck
2/13 – review, Unabridged Chick
2/13 – interview/giveaway/excerpt, Harlequin Junkie
2/14 – interview, Unabridged Chick
2/15 – review, Historical Fiction Obsession
2/16 – review, Lesa’s Book Critiques
2/17 – review/interview, A Bookish Affair
2/18 – review, Let Them Read Books
2/19 – interview, Let Them Read Books
2/20 – review/giveaway, The Maiden’s Court
2/21 – review/giveaway, No More Grumpy Bookseller
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