Friday, June 2, 2023

Exit The Actress by Priya Parmar


Ellen lives with her sister, mother and grandfather in London.  Money is tight and her mother is an alcoholic and perhaps a prostitute.  Her sister is a marvelous seamstress but it is easier to follow in her mother's footsteps.  Ellen is determined not to do the same.

Charles II is a fan of the theatre and there are playhouses throughout the city.  Ellen manages to get a job selling oranges during the plays and she is fascinated by this world she never knew of.  Soon, she has managed to get on the stage herself and is called Nell by the audience.  She starts an affair with one of the other actors and he is jealous of the attention other men give her.  Eventually, the affair ends but by then Nell is a star.

She catches the attention of Charles II.  His wife has not been able to give him children but he has many children outside of his marriage as he always has a mistress or two in tow.  They all demand titles and houses and riches.  Nell catches his eye and she is determined to be the one who never asks for anything but his attention.  They start an affair that continues for the rest of her life.

Priya Parmar is making herself known in the world of historical fiction.  Besides this novel, she has written one about Virginia Woolfe and her family.  In this novel, readers will learn about the world of the stage and the surrounding lives of those who live and work in Covent Garden.  The story is told through the pages of Nell's diary and the letters of Charles II both to Nell and to his sister and mother in France.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

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