Read Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart by Marci Jefferson Online


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 the Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and moves to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches the Sun King's eyImpoverished 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 the Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and moves to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches the Sun King's eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty-she has Stuart secrets to keep and her family to protect. King Louis XIV 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 secure an alliance.Armed in pearls and silks, Frances maneuvers 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 a better 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. The discovery of a dangerous plot will force her to choose between love for herself and war for her beloved country. Debut author Marci Jefferson's Girl on the Golden Coin brings to life a captivating woman whose beauty, compassion, and intellect impacted a king and a nation....

Title : Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250060945
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart Reviews

  • Erin
    2019-05-21 17:59

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....I was very nervous about picking up Marci Jefferson's Girl on the Golden Coin, not because it is a debut, but because the book has been hyped to such an extent that I feared an experience similar to the one I had with Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker. My worry was so real that I actually considered holding off a while when I received an ARC edition of the book for review. Doing my best to ignore my apprehension, I ultimately decided waiting would only delay the inevitable and so I dove in, hoping my concern would dissipate in short order. It was a hope that was quickly fulfilled and I soon found myself enamored with the story of Frances' life in the glittering opulence of both the French and English courts.Girl on the Golden Coin has much to commend it, but my favorite aspect of this piece was how Jefferson approached the women in Charles' life. Frances Stuart, Lady Castlemaine and Catherine of Braganza are individually distinct personalities which made it relatively easy to understand why Charles might have been drawn to each, but it was the complex intricacies of the relationships they shared with one another that captured my imagination. Their rivalries were expected, but the idea that the intensity of their competition waxed and waned on the unpredictable tides of political intrigue added an interesting and unexpected dimension to Jefferson's narrative.On that note, I really liked how Jefferson painted Charles II. His penchant for beautiful woman and flagrant displays of infidelity would have made it easy to vilify him, but Jefferson opted to for a more dynamic interpretation, presenting him as a competent man, but wayward and rather self-indulgent. It is representation that echoes the conviction of John Evelyn who wrote his monarch was "a prince of many virtues and many great imperfections, debonair, easy of access, not bloody or cruel." If Girl on the Golden Coin has a weakness, it is the lack of exposition offered the reader in regards to the political stage on which Frances' story unfolds. I can't speak for anyone else, but my formal education didn't cover the English Restoration. Independent study of the period has granted me a superficial understanding of events, but I am far from well-versed in the era and that made Jefferson's work something of a challenge as she doesn't create a completely comprehensive portrait of England's political landscape under Charles II. The Stuarts are by no means unknown, but nor are they the Tudors. This being the case, I feel this piece would have benefited from additional bureaucratic commentary.Decadent and sensuous, Girl on the Golden Coin is a delightfully vibrant story of devotion, honor, duty and fidelity. An impressive and enjoyable debut of an oft overlooked affair between an English king and the woman who so famously rejected him.

  • Orsolya
    2019-04-24 17:45

    As a “fan girl” of King Charles II, it is only natural that I am also fascinated by his mistresses. Although I adore Nell Gwynne as my favorite; the other women are compelling, as well. Marci Jefferson reveals the role of Frances Stuart in her debut novel, “Girl on the Golden Coin”.At this juncture of my many years of reading both history and historical fiction text; I can pretty much scan a book and know if it will please me. “Girl on the Golden Coin” instantly caused trepidation but its promises of scandal, intrigue, and duplicity surrounding Frances Stuart; insisted I proceed. As I suspected: I was let down. Big time. “Girl on the Golden Coin” is best described as a “Stuart High School” drama filled with squealing, giggles, and shrugs. The novel is more fiction than history and fails to bring the era to life. Yes, there are some illustrative descriptions but overall, the authenticity is lacking as the focus is on teen-level soap opera drama. To be blunt: it doesn’t feel as though Jefferson did much research which is why the story is ‘told’ versus ‘lived’ and ‘shown’.Although “Girl on the Golden Coin” is told in a first-person narrative; one never truly receives a real glimpse into Frances. She appears dense and yet illusive and has no character arc. In fact, none of the characters are portrayed strongly as Charles is not kingly, Queen Catherine is a dunce, Minette is a “mean girl”, and Frances lacks genuine chemistry with Charles. The only intriguing interaction is between Frances and the Duke of Buckingham. The plotline in the novel is also thin. Nothing seems to ‘actually’ happen while uneventful pages pass. It isn’t that the pace is slow, per se; it is simply that the novel is boring. The reader will not learn historical facts nor experience memorable events. There is nothing to push “Girl on the Golden Coin”.Jefferson’s work is a victim of the, “As you know, Bob”- method of storytelling in which characters discuss other figures or political events as a result of the first-person storytelling (a la Philippa Gregory). This becomes tedious with some sections feeling pointless except for this idle talk and adds to the absence of excitement. It needs to be stated again that the major disappointment with “Girl on the Golden Coin” is the failure to bring Frances to life. Although this is HER novel, she breathes no air and Jefferson doesn’t give her any vibrancy. Plus, her portrayal is very inconsistent as she acts childlike one moment but alludes to adult behavior in the next moment. Sadly, the well-known historical incidents involving Charles’s mistresses or the political landscape are glossed over, appearing unimportant. This means that those readers new to the topic don’t receive a proper introduction while novice readers don’t get to re-address their favorite moments. Also keeping the reader from truly getting into the story are the extremely short chapters (some are only 2 pages long). Everything is abrupt which prevents any depth or symbolism to seep through.“Girl on the Golden Coin" finally improves during the last quarter of the novel with the final chapters being more ardent about history and including a creative interpretation of Frances’s elopement with the Duke of Richmond. However, the conclusion is rushed and honestly: doesn’t make much sense with the novel and therefore lacks strength. On the bright side, Jefferson provides an ‘Author’s Note’ explaining the historical liberties taken in the novel and explains some of her motives. Overall, “Girl on the Golden Coin” is a fluffy, historical-fiction novel which emphasizes the ‘fiction’ aspect. Although the topic is interesting; both the presentation and the characters are flat and the plot doesn’t have much of a point or climax. The novel is only recommended for those new to the topic seeking an introduction or for readers seeking a light, 1-2 day fluffy read (which I know can be great for a ‘filler read’). Otherwise, those well-versed on the topic will be left unsatisfied. Credit should be given to Jefferson for writing a novel based on a figure who doesn’t receive much attention and therefore I would perhaps consider reading another one of Jefferson’s works to see if there is an improvement in her writing (but I would be in no rush). “Girl on the Golden Coin” is an empty-calorie read.

  • Erin
    2019-04-22 12:55

    Set in the late 17th century, Marci Jefferson's female protagonist is none other than the beautiful Frances Stuart, a woman pursued by one monarch which she escapes , only to fall into bed with another. I felt that this was an "okayish" read as it took me several days to get through. Although Frances was narrating, I never felt emotionally connected to her or any of the other characters.

  • Jenny Q
    2019-04-27 18:55

    Author Interview + Giveaway @ Let Them Read Books!Oh, how I was looking forward to this book! I love reading about Restoration England and the Merry Monarch and his licentious court. And I love reading about lesser-known people whose impact on history gets outshone by the light of the bright stars of their age. History may remember Frances Stuart simply as the only woman who managed not to succumb to King Charles II's charms--and that is highly debatable--but she was also the face of Britannia, chosen because the king felt she was the embodiment of the strengths of his great nation; she was beloved by just about every courtier, artist, and poet in his court, and she was an island of goodness and honor in a sea of debauchery and self-servitude. She was a calming, gentling influence on the king, and though her status as his mistress is debated, no one denies the longstanding and intimate friendship the two enjoyed. And she was just about the only woman who was able to exert any influence on his policies. Ms. Jefferson had a real opportunity here to take a woman fairly unfamiliar to modern readers, a woman who was famous in her time, though largely forgotten by history, and bring her back to life in a way that would allow her humanity to shine through while providing insight into a tumultuous time period. And she nailed it!I absolutely loved Frances. Though she is subject to the demands of her family and of her king, she is no simpering milksop. She is so poised, so strong, so prescient in her ability to see through any situation to the heart of the matter that it seems as if she really must have been as Ms. Jefferson portrays her to have been able to capture and hold the estimation of not only her king but her fellow countrymen as well. And since we are privy to her inner thoughts, we get to witness her personal struggle with balancing the demands on her; we get to witness those private moments when her poise and graciousness fall away, where she's simply a daughter desperate to protect her family, simply a woman in love caught in a web of political maneuvering that never allows her to throw caution to the wind and reach for her own happiness. I knew a little bit about her life, and so I was prepared for the things coming her way, but I never stopped rooting for her to overcome them all. Really, I think it's a shame that a little two-bit actress like Nell Gwyn is best loved by history among his mistresses when Frances Stuart and even her archrival Lady Castlemaine were such grand women. Don't get me wrong: I've read several books about Nell, and I admire her spirit and her rise to the top, but when compared to the beauty, grace, intelligence, and accomplishment of Frances Stuart, she doesn't even come close.I really wanted to rate this novel higher, and even now I'm toying with my final rating. I loved the characterization and I was thoroughly emotionally invested, but the storytelling was a little uneven in places. I wanted more. (WARNING: spoiler-ish material ahead.) Some events are skipped over or only briefly mentioned, like the deaths of the two most important men in her life. I wanted to know how her husband died and how she coped, and I wanted to be there with her when King Charles died. More page time is devoted to a royal hand-job than to the death of her husband, and the king's death was a footnote. I found that rather odd since practically the entire novel revolves around her relationship with him. So that was a big disappointment for me. And I had been looking forward to experiencing some of the cataclysmic events that took place during her time at court through her survival of them--the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London--but instead they are portrayed from a distance, and I felt like a real opportunity was missed in those instances to bring the enormous gravity of them to life, like Kathleen Winsor does in Forever Amber, one of my all-time faves.But in spite of my desire for more in-depth coverage, I really did love Girl on the Golden Coin. It's a gorgeous novel, lush and intoxicating, with an inspiring heroine readers can't help but get swept away with. It's a loving tribute to a woman who deserves to be better remembered by history and a must-read for historical fiction lovers.

  • Heather Webb
    2019-04-28 20:50

    Marci Jefferson spins a spirited yarn in GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN, a Restoration novel packed with beribboned courtiers and ebullient dialogue, and the utterly likeable and cunning Frances Stuart, distant cousin of King Charles II. A realistic view of court intrigue, this story of merry-making and mischief and the ultimate test of honor will delight readers and keep them turning pages long into the night.

  • Judith Starkston
    2019-05-12 12:54

    Flirtations of the most dangerous and serious sort entangle Frances Stuart first in the court of Louis XIV and then in the Restoration court of Charles II. Despite the luscious gowns and extravagant jewels she wins for herself, we don’t envy her the high-wire balancing act she must maintain as she tries to win first one king’s influence and then another, while concealing the tragic secrets that would destroy her family and herself. That she manages to hold onto her virginity and her dignity for much of this engaging book while obeying the selfish commands of various powerful women and men is a testament to the inner strength and resiliency of Frances Stuart, the famous mistress of Charles II. This remarkable woman carries the book—we deeply want her to find happiness and an identity that will allow her to remain true to herself. The first step that she must accomplish is to understand her own nature and sense of purpose. That isn’t easy in the treacherous seas of the courts she grows up in, nor is it easy to find when everyone who should love and protect her is out to use her. Frances carries the weight of her mother’s and siblings’ futures as well as her own. This is a book about an admirable woman in morally ambiguous circumstances where the price of failing at any one moment can destroy a family or a country. That’s a lot of pressure on one young woman, and the turns and twists of her life will keep you thrilled on every page. That Jefferson has so fully and accurately recreated the splendor of the Restoration court—its rich fabrics, gems, palaces, dalliances and betrayals—adds to the delight.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-05-10 16:51

    Although I have read much about Charles II and his many mistresses, I have read little about Frances Stuart. She serves as our narrator, so it was very surprising to me that I didn't feel like I really got to know her, on the surface yes, but in depth, no. Still it was an interesting and quick read and I did enjoy much of this book. The court, their clothes, the political maneuvering, the mistresses, the key players were all present as was the whole religion debate. Loved the author's note because I never knew that if William of Harry succeed to the crown, the Stuart line will again reign. Would have liked a little more depth but all in all a good read.

  • Audra (Unabridged Chick)
    2019-05-22 14:48

    I have been dying to read this book since last June, when I hosted the author on my blog ahead of the Historical Novel Conference. Since then, there's been a lot of buzz about this book because one, the author is sweet and adorable and I just want to eat her up with a spoon; and two, the novel has a staggeringly gorgeous cover (click the image for the full-blown hi-res version). As it turns out, there's a pretty fabulous story here, too!Set between 1661 and 1688, at the height of the Restoration in Great Britain -- the rule of Charles II -- the novel is narrated by English noblewoman Frances Stuart. Frances is part of a group of exiled English royalists holed up in France, serving the Queen Mother there while hoping for an invitation to join the court in England. When her great beauty attracts the attention of King Louis XIV, she becomes a pawn in a greater political struggle for power, as she is essentially ordered by both Louis and the Queen Mother to become mistress to the 'merry monarch', Charles II.At risk of literally recounting the whole novel, I'll stop here, but add that Frances is an intriguing, complicated heroine. Loyal to her family, she tries to be obedient to Louis and the Queen Mother, but finds herself attracted to the rakish king.  Her purity and admiration of the man Charles can be becomes a kind of erotic charge between her and her monarch -- not helped that his wild mistress, the infamous Countess Castlemaine, Barbara Palmer, throws parties that invite sexual shenanigans.Frances could have been portrayed as uncomfortably priggish or judgmental, but instead appears to be a very human woman: tempted, conflicted, concerned with both her honor and with the yearnings of her body.  She made the entire novel for me -- her 'voice' was warm and real -- and I loved every minute with her.  This is a coup for Jefferson, because ever since reading Susan Holloway Scott's Royal Harlot, her novel about Barbara Palmer, I've had a soft spot for the woman -- and in this book, I wanted to slap her for being so awful to Frances.The historic details here are rich without overpowering the story and the pace is very fast -- Frances' life is full of excitement and drama. There are some sexytimes, too, but those scenes fit with the story and didn't feel egregious or outrageous to me. My only complaint is that I would have liked a little more lingering near the end -- the novel felt rushed at times, especially with Charles' death -- but otherwise, I was sucked in from the first page.There's a full six pages of Who's Who at the novel's open, for which I'm deeply grateful, and a four page Author's Note.A delicious debut, Jefferson's novel is a delightful introduction to a tempting heroine and a rich story of a wild, tumultuous era. In an interview with Megan of A Book Affair, Jefferson says she "became obsessed with the desire to do for the Stuarts what Philippa Gregory had done for the Tudors" and I think she's done that! Here's to more Stuarts, and to more from Jefferson.

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-04-27 18:00

    No dear readers, do not try to adjust your screen – yes, you are really are seeing a review from me! It’s been longer than I care to since I’ve written my last review. But with having two babies in two years and my own growing business I’ve been a tad busy so I do hope you’ll forgive me! What better way to end a reviewing drought than with Marci Jefferson’s spectacular debut, Girl on the Golden Coin! Set during two of the most intriguing courts in Europe’s history, that of Louis XIV of France, the “Sun King’ and Charles II of England, the “Merry Monarch”, readers are treated to a veritable tour-de-force of court machinations, where loyalties are tested (and often found wanting), and a girl’s innocence is barter for other’s political aspirations. Frances is a strong protagonist to root for, I really felt for the awful position she was in. Tasked to seduce King Charles, convince him to leave his current mistress, Lady Castlemaine, and turn him to Catholicism. She must do so or her mother’s secret will be revealed and her family disgraced. But what she didn’t count on was falling in love with Charles, even as her conscience rails against it. Atmospheric and historically delicious, Girl on the Golden Coin will appeal to veteran readers of historical fiction, as well as the casual reader. I am eager to see what is on the horizon next for Marci Jefferson, she is definitely an author to watch!

  • Melinda
    2019-05-21 12:54

    Marci Jefferson struck gold with her debut novel. Bringing us two royal courts full of interest and intrigue, Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England. Plenty of drama not without twists and turns, all involving a beautiful virtuous girl caught in the crossfire of manipulation and politics, Frances Stuart. Frances Stuart is intelligent, and empathetic for circumstances out of her control. A deep rooted family secret forces her to play into the political hand forced upon her. Frances proves her loyalty, with plenty of guilt attached, as well as falling madly in love along the way sans her best efforts to avoid the powerful force of adoration.Enthralling, liaisons galore, love triangles, loads of drama as this period of time warrants. Historical fiction fans will appreciate Frances and her story. Looking forward to Jefferson's next project, fabulous debut with a wonderful hidden piece of history. Well researched, with a mighty independent strong female protagonist, exactly how I prefer my heroines.

  • Kate Forsyth
    2019-04-24 17:00

    The Restoration is one of my absolute favourite periods of history and I have read a lot of books set in that period. However, I had never read about Frances Stuart before and so I found this novel of her life by Marci Jefferson utterly fascinating. Frances is a distant cousin of Charles II whose family lost everything in the English Civil War and their subsequent exile with the royal court. Frances has only her beauty and her wit to help her survive in the decadent Restoration court, but she uses both to high advantage. Spying for the French king, Louis XIV, on the one hand and keeping a sensual King Charles II on a short leash with the other hand, Frances must keep a clear head without losing her heart –which proves far more difficult than she imagined. A wonderful read for anyone who loves historical fiction.

  • Jessica McCann
    2019-04-27 15:01

    I was introduced to this author through Twitter and the Historical Novel Society a few years ago and have been enjoying following her updates about her debut novel. What a fun surprise to win the book through a Goodreads give-away.While I am an avid historical fiction reader, this was my first book about European royals. Set in the Restoration period of the 1600s, the novel follows the life of the beautiful Royalist exile Frances Stuart and the restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in England. Jefferson did a great deal of period research and her efforts paid off in the authentic detail of this book. Before reading this work, I had no idea about the complexities and nuances of hierarchy and status among the Royals and their extended families, nor of the many sexual indiscretions that led to illegitimate heirs. What a fascinating history lesson. I also appreciated the author's note at the end, which provided additional detail and clarified what elements she fictionalized in the book.If you enjoy royal historical fiction filled with exquisite period detail, political maneuvering, sibling rivalries and sexual escapades, THE GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN will deliver a captivating read.

  • Jeanie
    2019-04-30 20:05

    Girl on the Golden Coin is pure gold, rich in historical intrique and one of the most sensual historical fictions I have read. Frances who captured the heart of the king and protected England from war within. I loved how the story was told. Frances desire to be honorable was very well played in this novel. Was she maniuplative at the cost of being honorable, one could argue. It does seem like a contradiction of sorts, but I could see how history played out during that time in history. Between power plays of the Queen Mother and how the Catholic Church was (and at times did) trying to control the country. It played such an important part in our own American history. How royality was "out of touch" with the people and to keep the people in reign while themselves being captive of their own desire to remain in power. Frances herself not knowing her own father and being used as a pawn by others to protect her mother and siblings from ruin. She knew how to play the game but also had a desire for God's will. The tension between the two, drew me into her story and I think it will you too.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-28 13:01

    If Orsolya call this fluff then it will be too light for my tastes.

  • Gloria Marcano Cerisano
    2019-04-30 18:56

    Frances Stuart was everything a person of royalty will want and she was divided honor or love. The story talks about her relationship with King Charles II and the life at court. Marci gives us an inside of her interpretation of Frances life at court and with King Charles. This was a great story, Marci did a great job talking about La Belle Stuart. She will be on the Brittania coin.

  • V.E. Lynne
    2019-04-29 15:57

    It is 1660 and the Stuart Monarchy, under Charles II, has been restored to the throne of Great Britain. Young Frances Stuart, a beautiful offshoot of the royal family, has spent the Cromwell years in penniless exile in France like many other royalists. However, once she rejects the advances of Louis XIV she must return to England and the Restoration court, a hotbed of intrigue, danger and illicit passions. Unbeknown to all, before leaving France she made a deal with King Louis to work in his favour but,once King Charles captures her heart, will she be able, or willing, to stick to it? 'Girl on the Golden Coin' is a real gem of a novel, one that I had no trouble completing in a short space of time. Marci Jefferson really brings the pageantry of the court of Charles II alive, as well as all the colourful, and often grasping and debauched, characters that inhabited it. Frances Stuart is a heroine that engages her audience immediately and we never stop supporting her cause the whole way through. Loved this book, it was a huge pleasure to read.

  • Tracy Camp
    2019-05-10 19:00

    I'm a big fan of biographical historical fiction, especially in a royal court setting. This is the first one I've read in a long time with so much tension! The main character believably interacts in a palace setting where courtiers don't come off as cardboard background cutouts. The court factions are important sub-plots, so you feel involved in court life and survival. This heroine out wits them, they bandy witty group insults, and actually do the work courtiers did - it's so real! There are standard king and mistress scenes, but there is a looming war she's supposed to prevent, peasant risings, ambassadors to avoid, the threat of the old Civil War firing back up, and the same religious conflicts from the Tudor period, and the need for family alliances. Frances, grapples one crisis after another so I could hardly put the book down. I never realized how interesting the Stuart Period was, or how Charles II managed to keep the country together just by keeping his cool. I had an advance copy.

  • Heather Nims willison
    2019-04-29 17:42

    I was very fortunate to be able to get my hands on an advance copy of this debut novel, and it did not disappoint! As an avid reader, it has always been my belief that the sign of an excellent book is when you fall head over heels for the characters within. Oh, to be Frances Stuart and to have experienced such a passionate life during such a tumultuous time. This is a story of family, loyalty, redemption, survival, loss, and above all, love. I cannot wait to read what the talented Marci Jefferson presents next!

  • Ruth
    2019-05-07 19:44

    I quite enjoyed this one. It winds in the known facts of Frances Stuart's life together with the events she lived through and the people she would have known. Having said that, the writing style didn't pull me in enough to feel anything for any of the characters at all, even though the author carefully constructed a series of motivations and possible events which very plausibly fill in the gaps of what is and isn't known. Nice, quick, entertaining but rather unsatisfying read. 3 stars.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-05-12 12:52

    I was neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by this story. I admit I knew nothing about this woman who had such influence over King Charles II. She seems to have been quite the court beauty caught in the snare of royal politics. This was a light read, easily done overnight. No deep thinking or concentration needed. I may look for other books by this author to fulfill that occasional desire.

  • Chris
    2019-05-15 17:52

    A very light read about Frances Stuart who may or may not have become a mistress to King Charles II. I think becoming the model for Britannia on the coins of England may lend itself to the side of the affirmative! The author portrays her as honorable & smarter than history suggests; which she explains in her author's note. I don't know a lot about this period of the English monarchy, so enjoyed learning a little about the players and inevitable intrigues of the day. But the writing itself and focus of the story fell flat for me. Some of the sex scenes, although few, are gratuitous in nature and one too speculative and seemed out of character.

  • Stacey
    2019-05-01 19:55

    Definitely on the fluffy side of the historical fiction spectrum, but enjoyable nonetheless. The author seems to follow what's known about Frances Stuart pretty closely, in general - this means there's no Mary Boleyn or Katharine Swynford ending. As fluffy as it is, it has inspired me to read more about the period. For readers into the heftier, denser side of historical fiction, Lindsay Davis wrote a tome about the English Civil War -- Rebels and Traitors. I'm still looking for the history of the period - Civil War and Restoration. Poor, unlucky Stuarts.

  • Karen Brooks
    2019-05-21 15:51

    The Restoration is a fascinating period of English history, the huge religious upheavals, bigotry, fears, debates, philosophical breakthroughs and scientific discoveries are, however, often overlooked in favour of focussing on the fascinating and debauched court of Charles II and his personal sexual proclivities. As the father of between 13-18 illegitimate children (depending which account you read), Charles made up for his long period of exile and deprivation when he returned to England with great fanfare and promises – one of the main ones he made was the Declaration of Breda (before he set sail for England to take the crown) – a promise that swore religious toleration providing the religion didn’t threaten the peace of the kingdom. This was important to the English who, despite having made the decision to restore the monarchy and (mostly) enjoying throwing off the shackles of Interregnum Puritanism, were also incredibly cautious and suspicious of Popery and France. During Cromwell’s reign, Protestantism in various guises had prospered and while the Church of England was set to return as the dominant religion along with Charles, the Parliament didn’t like what “liberty to tender consciences” implied and didn’t accept this. This was due to the fact they didn’t want Catholicism to take root in their soil ever again. Not only was Charles II’s mother a staunch Catholic, but Louis XIV, the Catholic King of France, was his cousin, so it was incumbent upon Charles to prove he had England’s best religious interests at heart. But, he also had to keep his cousin (whom he later came to depend on for financial support) happy, so the balancing act between public Protestantism and private beliefs began. Enter, according to Marci Jefferson in her terrific novel, The Girl on the Golden Coin, Frances Stuart who, rather than simply being an object of Charles’s desires and affections, is dragged from the relative margins of history to play a central role in court and transnational politics. Beautiful, charming and by all accounts very sweet (but according to contemporary accounts – albeit by men – not very bright), Frances was raised out of poverty by the French Court and King Louis who, like any man who came into her orbit, fell for her charms and then, at the whim of Charles’s sister who also had feelings for Louis and was jealous of the attention he was showing Frances, sent to England to remind Charles of his obligations to his cousin among other things – at least, that’s the story the way Jefferson spins it.I’ve written before about the way women are so often elided from history, or presented as little more than ornamental, despite evidence to the contrary. Even this period - governed by the bold and large presence of King Charles who loved and, according to some historians, deeply respected women - where women took to the stage for the first time, were writing books, plays (Aphra Behn), treatises and challenging men even in the realm of science, it’s still a time that celebrates women most for their beauty, ability to seize male attention (especially the king and court) and the sensual pleasures and scandals they offered. The women we most hear and read about are the various mistresses of Charles II and his much-put-upon queen, Catherine of Braganza, as well as some of the leading actresses of the day, such as Nell Gwynne. While Jefferson plunges her heroine into this male-dominated society, she foregrounds these various women as well – the quiet pious but kind queen, the brash, manipulative Barbara Castlemaine and, of course, the beautiful and sought after, Frances Stuart – a relative of the royal family – as well as some female theatre luminaries. Whereas many accounts, non-fiction and fiction discuss the fact Frances avoided the King’s overtures to make her his mistress, remaining a “virgin”, resisted his professed love and admiration for her, Jefferson turns this on its head and has Frances as an able and willing participant in an affair that almost undoes the monarchy. While history will contest much of what Jefferson creates in this novel, I love her spin on history and the role she gives Frances. The woman cannot have been as stupid as records suggest. She made a good marriage, kept the friendship of the monarch, even after refusing him (or not if you believe the novel), befriended the queen and other women vying for Charles’s attention, and was immortalised by the king by being made the model for Britannia for a newly minted golden coin. Rather than being side-lined by history, in this novel, Frances, like the actresses the king loved, takes centre stage and directs many a production, even if those cast don’t know it. Surviving the plague and Great Fire, through Frances’s eyes and ears, we’re given access to many bedrooms and boudoirs of the Restoration, and see many of the feminine (and male) machinations first hand. While sometimes the wider political repercussions are not made evident, this story is about Frances first and foremost and certainly, in that regard, her personal politics and decisions are the most important. A really good read for lovers of history, the women at its heart, and this specific period as well.

  • Sara Giacalone
    2019-05-12 15:50

    I admit I am quite fascinated with the Restoration period currently. This was an enjoyable read, full of historic details - if rather lighthearted.

  • Helen
    2019-05-20 17:58

    For more than three hundred years, an image of Britannia with her shield and spear or trident has been depicted on the reverse of certain British coins. In the 17th century, the model for Britannia was said to be Frances Stuart, who was described by Samuel Pepys as a great beauty and who famously refused to become a mistress of King Charles II. Girl on the Golden Coin is Frances Stuart's story.At the beginning of the novel, Frances is one of a family of Royalists who have been living in exile in Paris since Charles I was defeated in the English Civil War. With the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Stuart family return to favour and Frances joins the household of Henriette Anne, Charles II's younger sister, who has just married the brother of Louis XIV of France (the 'Sun King'). When Frances catches Louis' eye, he sends her to the English court where she is faced with the task of seducing Charles, converting him to Catholicism and helping to form an alliance between England and France.The rest of the novel follows Frances at the court of Charles II, exploring her relationships with the King, his noblemen and the other women of the court including the young Queen, Catherine of Braganza, and the King's favourite mistress Barbara Palmer, Lady Castlemaine. As Frances grows closer to Charles and begins to replace Castlemaine in his affections, she finds herself under pressure from the Queen Mother, the French ambassadors and various courtiers to use her influence with the King to help further their political intrigues – and failure to do so could result in her own family secrets being exposed.Girl on the Golden Coin is Marci Jefferson's first novel and was only published in February, but has been attracting some excellent reviews already. I can see its appeal, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as most other readers have. It was fun to read but it was too light for me and didn't have the depth I prefer in my historical fiction – although to be fair, that's what I had suspected before I started reading but decided to still read it anyway as the Restoration is such an interesting period of history and I had never come across a book written from Frances Stuart's perspective before.I suppose given who Frances was and her position at court, it's understandable that so much of the novel concentrates on her love life, but I would personally have preferred less romance, fewer descriptions of pretty silk dresses and beautiful jewels, and more focus on the history. The novel does touch on important issues such as religious conflict (in the form of two of Frances' servants, one of whom is a Catholic and the other a Quaker), and the Anglo-Dutch War but I was disappointed that there were only a few pages devoted to some of the most significant historical events Frances lived through, such as the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. I couldn't help making comparisons with Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, another historical romance set at the court of Charles II, but which captures the drama and atmosphere of the Restoration period in a way which, in my opinion, this book doesn't.I don't want to sound too negative because I didn't actually dislike Girl on the Golden Coin – it was a quick read that kept me entertained for a few days and a good introduction to the life of Frances Stuart, someone I previously knew almost nothing about. As the response to this novel so far has been overwhelmingly positive I'm sure Marci Jefferson has a very successful career ahead of her. This just wasn't the right book for me.

  • Lisa Reads & Reviews
    2019-05-10 17:58

    At the end, I felt cheated. The novel could have been transporting, and educational. Instead, I felt the author never really understood Frances Stuart enough to draw the reader in. Moments that would have delivered high dramatic impact were dismissed with a single line, causing me to say, Oh, wait, what? There were good parts, especially the male characters, especially King Charles. The females were grating with Valley Girl-worthy responses. This mixture was odd and jolting in places. As for what I may have learned....instead of seeming powerful, the women were used as pawns and their influence was on the fringes, for the most part. Kings can be captured by beauty, but it causes a struggle between love, duty, and their own judgement that ultimately destroys them---at least in the eyes of the woman who thought she was loved.

  • The Lit Bitch
    2019-05-23 17:03

    Frances easily captures the heart of any man that she meets, not just the two kings but many at court as well. She is known not just for her beauty but for her grace and poise.In this novel that side of her really came shining through. I loved Frances, at times she could be a little naive and silly but overall I thought she was realistic and true to what is known about her in history.I enjoyed the writing style of this novel and how fast it moved. I was immediately are drawn into the story by the prologue and found myself itching to get to the next chapter to find out what happens next.The novel was richly textured with historic detail. I kept having to remind myself that this was a work of fiction because the historic facts were so well researched and presented. It was equal parts history and fiction which I loved!Overall though this was a charming, fast read that also had a lot of historic substance. It was great to read from Frances’s perspective and I loved learning more about her! What an amazing woman with a devilishly delicious tale to tell!See my full review here

  • Angie
    2019-05-20 18:57

    I am thrilled to be a GoodReads first reads winner of this book!! I CANNOT wait to get it and start reading!!I thoroughly enjoyed this Restoration-era novel about Frances Stuart. This book was an introduction to me on Frances, and I found her to be quite fascinating! Who can boast of having so many important men truly love them? Jefferson really creates her as a warm, true character who you like reading about. You are happy when she is, and you feel sorrow for her during her unhappy times. The whole book paints a brilliant mental picture of each character and court life at the time. Each character, including the Kings, Queens, mistresses, dukes, etc felt Genuine. So many books I read this is not the case. My only criticism is that I would have liked to have had more detail on Frances. This is a great book, and I will definitely be on the lookout for any new books by Jefferson! Recommended to all historical fiction fans.

  • Kathleen
    2019-05-15 16:41

    I did not know much about Frances Stuart before beginning this book, and that is why I prefer to read historical fiction. Marci Jefferson has researched and crafted a fine tale which I very much enjoyed. Because some of the events in her life are not well know I remained suspenseful for the author's view point until the very end. I almost missed the last four years of Charles II's reign as it pertained to Frances, but the excellent author's notes sent me back a few pages.There are several British eras I need to learn about through my reading and this is one of them. Why did a handful of my ancestors come across perilous seas to take their chances in a dangerous and primitive new world? Frances Stuart's life and times give very strong clues as to the danger all around.I received this book from NetGalley for a review. I am so very glad I did. I recommend this highly to historians and historical novels fans alike.

  • Susan (susayq ~)
    2019-05-18 18:10

    This was a good novel about the life of Frances Stuart, the girl who had the love of two kings and was immortalized on the face of coins in England. I'm always intrigued by books that fictionalize Court life. I wonder how much is real, how much is fiction, could a conversation have taken place, would people have reacted the way it's portrayed. In here, we get a glimpse into the life of Frances Stuart, a girl who spurns one king and falls in love with another. I loved the relationship between Frances and King Charles and Queen Catherine.ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley