Well Spoken Wednesday: Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar Review

By Ruth on July 27, 2011 in book, England, historical fiction, history, review
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Summary from goodreadsWhile selling oranges in the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, sweet and sprightly Ellen “Nell” Gwyn impresses the theater’s proprietors with a wit and sparkle that belie her youth and poverty. She quickly earns a place in the company, narrowly avoiding the life of prostitution to which her sister has already succumbed. As her roles evolve from supporting to starring, the scope of her life broadens as well. Soon Ellen is dressed in the finest fashions, charming the theatrical, literary, and royal luminaries of Restoration England. Ellen grows up on the stage, experiencing first love and heartbreak and eventually becoming the mistress of Charles II. Despite his reputation as a libertine, Ellen wholly captures his heart—and he hers—but even the most powerful love isn’t enough to stave off the gossip and bitter court politics that accompany a royal romance. Telling the story through a collection of vibrant seventeenth-century voices ranging from Ellen’s diary to playbills, letters, gossip columns, and home remedies, Priya Parmar brings to life the story of an endearing and delightful heroine.

Exit the ActressExit the Actress by Priya Parmar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book because a historical fiction group here on goodreads was reading it.  I had planned to participate in their book reading, but I had so many other things going on, I was actually unable to do so.  I am glad to say that I persevered and finally finished it.  And all I can say is that I am glad I did!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  When I was “forced” to set this book aside for other endeavors, I actually resented it!  I wanted to read this book and find out what happened to Nell (she’s the main character).  This is my kind of book in the extreme.  It is historical fiction at its height.  The author has researched everything very well, and almost every person in the book is a literal, historical character.  Many of the events actually occurred–even some of the more bizarre ones. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it when historical fiction authors research their topics in great detail, and Priya Parmar certainly did her homework.

I think the author had a stroke of genius when she chose to use Nell’s own voice to tell this thoroughly entertaining story.  I have to say that there was never a dull moment in this book.  And I learned so much about history.  I verified a lot of it with my history expert in England (my best friend).

Indeed, this book had it all–romance, heartache, history, villains, intrigue, humor–and no bad language or intimate sex scenes!  Yes!  If you haven’t read it, go out and get a copy today!


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About the Author
Priya Parmar, a former freelance editor and dramaturg holds degrees in English Literature and theatre. She attended Mount Holyoke College, Oxford University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She divides her time between Hawaii and London. Exit the Actress is her first book. If you would like to learn more about Priya please visit her Simon and Schuster.

Be sure to check out her entertaining author interview here.


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