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Forever Amber

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  11,647 ratings  ·  761 reviews
Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England-that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague an ...more
Paperback, 972 pages
Published July 25th 2002 by Penguin (first published 1944)
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Best Historical Fiction
66th out of 4,484 books — 18,041 voters
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Big Fat Books Worth the Effort
135th out of 1,361 books — 5,602 voters


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Community Reviews

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Robyn
A little known trivia about this book. Artie Shaw wanted his beautiful young wife Ava Gardner to be well read, and so he encouraged her to read many intellectual books. He was very annoyed when he found her reading Forever Amber. He called it a 'trashy romance novel.' Years later Artie Shaw would wed the author, Kathleen Winsor.
Misfit
"Never again, she had promised herself a dozen times will I be such a fool." Yeah right, like we all know that's never going to happen don't we?

Amber St. Clare never felt she belonged with the poor family who raised her, and when one day a troop of cavaliers ride into her village she's swept away by Lord Bruce Carlton. Well, actually it's more like the other way around - Amber won't say no and begs Bruce to take her to London and against his better judgment he agrees - although lust for the bea
...more
Barb
I know some of you just love this book...and I'm happy for you...you are the good kind people who are able to go out into the world and make friends easily because you see the good in everyone regardless of how horrible and shallow and rotten they are.

I am not like you...I'm fussy, I'm particular, I'm very judgmental...and I could only stand to read 323 pages of this awful book!

I too am one of those people who thinks you should finish the book if you start it. I have never left a review about a
...more
Veronica Bailey
Ugh! I thought I'd never finish this book. I have never before read so many pages about a protagonist I hated this much.
At the beginning of the book, Amber is a childish, selfish, spoiled little brat who uses her natural beauty and sexuality to get what she wants. But I thought, it's a book about a journey! Life will Happen, Amber will learn and grow and become a better person, and by the end of the book, I'll be happy when good things happen to her.
Well. Life did happen, but Amber didn't change
...more
Tara
Amber takes you through one of the most interesting periods in the English history. A feisty, brave and independent heroine who is not afraid to go after what she wants!!

10 stars!!

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Anna
Like Amber’s frilly drawers, my thoughts on this book regularly went up and down.

It’s a lusty romp through Restoration England taking in Newgate prison, bawdy taverns and theatres, the plague, the great fire of London, royal courts, various bedrooms and general day to day life of the 1660s.

Amber was one hell of a character, an anti-heroine in the mould of Scarlett O’Hara. She fought hard for what she wanted at the expense of anyone who got in her way, and as with Scarlett, sometimes I was chee
...more
Lisa
Feb 16, 2008 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women who don't read romances.
Recommended to Lisa by: David
Absolutely the best chick-lit classic of all time. This historical romance is poorly written worthless junk, and I loved every second of it! I have never read a Harlequin Romance, anything by Barbara Cartland or Danielle Steele, or anything with Fabio on the cover. The only reason I bothered was the person who sent it to me. Not just recommended it, took the trouble to send it. This is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of fluff, entertaining in ways I can't begin to understand or describe. Heartily r ...more
Lisa
This book had everything you could ask for in historical fiction - court intrigue, infidelites, Newgate prison, smallpox, the plague, fire in London...It kept me going for 992 pages, yet I hated every character - there was no one with any redeeming qualities!! It was a very interesting read!
SarahKate
I read this book because of my grandfather. That sounds funny, but my grandpa Duke was in WWII and he was stationed mostly on ships. When this book came out, he the whole crew were given one copy to share. So they tore the book apart and passed the chapters around. You might get the third chapter one night and the tenth another. He read the whole book, but completely out of order. After he told me this story I went to the library and checked out the book. It was a good book especially if you lik ...more
Karla
While it's certainly not a "bodice ripper" in the modern sense, Winsor certainly laid the groundwork for the genre with her novel of the multiple amorous and mercenary adventures of one Amber St. Clare Channell Dangerfield Radclyffe Stanhope. Lots of thrusting, pointed and pert breasts, lots of hard, bronzed muscled skin, lots of eyes filled with passionate anger and angry passion. You know what I'm talking about. The devouring, hungry kisses and languid afterglows are all here without the moder ...more
Alycia
Charles II is restored to the throne, Cromwell is dead. Monarchy will rein once more in England. Amber St. Claire, a seemingly yeoman farmer's daughter happens across cavaliers one day and begs to be taken away from the country and travel with them into London. Here she believes, an entrancing beauty such as herself can live a larger and more important life. Lord Bruce Carlton is just the means to do it. She believes she can charm him like all the other men in her life.

Amber is a complex charact
...more
Stephen Smarr
Okay, Okay, I've read all the bad reviews on here, and I have to admit that this was NOT the book I would choose if I wanted a pick-me-up, light-hearted, fun read. But I would always reach for this book before picking up Gone with the Wind, and that's saying something since most of the reviewers on this site have commented about how much they like that book!
It really is along the same lines, and I don't know how you can like Scarlet O'hara without falling in love with Amber St Claire. Now, I ha
...more
Marquise
Delightful book, with a fast-paced plot with plenty of twists and turns, culminating in a funny ending you'll not expect.

The prose isn't particular, but the plotting and the historical detailing do make up for that. And some may feel the heroine isn't likable, and that's true, yet in my case it worked because I knew she wasn't meant to be lovable, and once that's accepted, one can sit and enjoy the ride; also, I may be the odd fish but I liked the hero less than her.

The plague chapters are the
...more
Gingerduchess
I first read this book when I was 11 and pretty sheltered in terms of sex and greed. I was floored at how Windsor made every character in this book come alive; living, breathing, fornicating, swearing---ALIVE. I certainly agree that Amber is one of the least likeable characters I've ever come across-she's bitchy, narrowminded, selfish and I believe that the term "stalker" would describe her osbession with Bruce--but can anyone say that they've never held on too long to someone they knew in their ...more
Chrissie
No, this is not a book I enjoy. I have read 267 of 972 pages and have decided to quit. I know the historical facts are correct so I have been forcing myself to continue to learn about the Restoration period in England, the plague, London’s Fire, clothing, food, customs and manners. Yes, all that is here. Still, I did not enjoy it. The beginning was fun because Amber felt like a young, spunky girl determined to get what she wanted from life… and Bruce did blow her over! That was all fine and dand ...more
Hannah
This was one of my sister's favorite books, and it took me several decades to finally get around to reading it. Why did I wait so long? FA is really the grandmother to most current historical romance literature. I think its racy content caused quite a firestorm when it was published. By today's standards, it's fairly tame, but it's still a well written story of an amoral girl's dream to rise above her station in life no matter what it takes or who she steps on. Amber isn't a likable woman, but s ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
I first read this book in 1968 and started a life-long interest in Restoration England. This novel (the unabridged version, if you please) I smuggled away to read at night. Back then, such books were not considered suitable reading material for 12 year olds.

Amber herself reminds me now of Scarlett O'Hara in GWTW (a book I didn't read until much later). Besides, my interest was not in the heroine but in the times, the events and (naturally) King Charles II himself. Okay, I'll admit to being a bit
...more
Dru
What a book! It felt more like an epic, with its length but fascinating read. The leading lady, Amber, was somebody that I found myself both rooting for and despiting her. She was the type of person who you wanted to succeed, to be happy, to be with her love, yet your nose crinkle in disdain about her dishonourable actions. Her discontempt for others, and her egostical attitude.

Definitely a fun read- but not by any means light! If you're looking for a book to last a few weeks on a vacation, thi
...more
Jemidar

Fun and lusty romp through Restoration London following adventuress Amber St Clare as she claws her way from humble beginnings to success at the Royal Court as Charles II's mistress. A good blend of history and fiction with lots of intrigue, my only complaint being that some of the plot twists and turns were just a little too convenient and some were probably a little too implausible. Overall though, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Buddy read with Anna :-).
Kathy Hiester
Amber St. Clare uses womanly trickery, intelligence and allure to climb her way out of the slums of 17th century London to the superior place as King Charles II preferred mistress. Amber’s individual drama takes place in the middle of the political stratagem of Restoration England. Detail is not spared in this 976 page novel. Kathleen Winsor’s panicked depiction of the Great Fire of London creates such a realistic representation the reader can swear they smell smoke. In contrast, the fashion and ...more
Ariana
How I felt before I started reading the book: Excited, intrigued, and a little intimidated by its enormity.
When I started reading the book: Still excited, but a little taken aback by how nonchalant the author is in her situation descriptions.
Half way through the book: Begining to feel anguish. I also started hating the main character (which never happened to me before. Typically, you want them to succeed.)
Five sixths through the book: Skimming paragraphs until I get to dialogue. Sick and tired
...more
Sara Giacalone
I really loved this book! I loved the characters, the wonderful period detail (it's obvious the author put tons of research into her story), the non-stop action, and most of all I loved Amber St. Clare (even if I did want to slap her at times). And the ending? Perfect! All in all, a great read, and one that I'm sure I will want to read again.
Jackleen
Although possibly shocking when first published Forever Amber is tame when compared to contemporary historical fiction. A good fun read set in Charles II restoration. Our heroine Amber, a self absorbed schemer had me at times cheering her on and others wanting to give her a shake. Terrific ending.
Krasimira
Очаквах доста по-различен финал, по-категоричен и недвусмислен, но ако оставим настрана разочарованието ми от завършека, книгата е наистина завладяваща! Много описания на разкошни тоалети и бижута, бляскави карети и апартаменти! Препоръчвам на всички, които се интересуват от живота в Англия през XVII век.
♥Xeni♥
Dec 21, 2010 ♥Xeni♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone. Seriously. It's that amazing.
Recommended to ♥Xeni♥ by: trivia question
I don't know how you could give this book anything but 5 stars.

First off, it's about 1,000 pages of almost pure adventures.

Secondly, Winsor has a writing style that is forward, direct and yet has an odd charm about it. She knows how to use just the perfect amount of words to describe something without making it boring, but enough to have details.

Thirdly, the plot flows forward from point to point, with only a rare few of those "super embarrassing" scenes we know so well from Ben Stiller. (The
...more
Agaa
Apr 28, 2011 Agaa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: stuart
Oh Amber! You just don't LISTEN, do you?

This is wonderful historical fiction - meticulously researched, full of rich detail (I especially loved the scrumptious descriptions of the dresses), and with a protagonist undoubtedly belongs in her time period.

Amber's behavior is appalling and shocking, but she fits just right in with the decadence and corruption of Restoration England. But she certainly isn't the most morally ambiguous character in the book. The scheming Lord Buckingham and Lady Castl
...more
Sheila
This book is interesting for what it is, basically a bodice ripping romance novel with a fictional leading lady dropped into a true historical fiction novel of Restoration England.

What I enjoyed most about this book was learning the history of England during the reign of Charles II. This was a period I had not read about before, so learning about Charles, his barren wife Catherine, and his many mistresses including Lady Castlemaine, Moll Davis, and Nell Gwyn was a interesting look at court and t
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I picked up this book in large part because of all the comparisons to Gone With the Wind. The plot and character similarities are numerous, and although that classic is still the better book, Forever Amber is great fun and absolutely worth a read. Amber is an English country girl who in 1660 follows a gentleman to London to become his mistress, only to be left alone and pregnant. The result is a fascinating page-turner that takes the reader through all classes of London society over about a deca ...more
Shayla
Oct 17, 2009 Shayla rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: My worst enemy
I finished this book ten minutes ago. It took me nearly two months to read, and here's why:

1. The protagonist was a whiny, self-absorbed, annoying twit who was afraid of growing old.

2. This book combined my two least favorite genres: romance and historical fiction.

3. The ending, if you can call it that, was horrible!

4. Some authors can pull off writing very long books (J.K. Rowling, anybody?). Some can't (Kathleen Winsor, I am talking to you). This was an eight hundred and twenty page story tha
...more
becky
this aptly titled book did go on forever. amber is a rather disagreeable woman who i wished would be poisoned before i would read, yet again, about how she absolutely must see bruce one more time. this book is a historical tribute to how a super bitch can get everything she wants with a small amount of wit and great beauty- well almost everything she wants.
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was she just a heartless bitch? 70 153 Aug 16, 2014 10:19AM  
Chicks On Lit: Forever Amber - with reading schedule 216 143 Sep 10, 2013 11:15AM  
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Winsor was raised in Berkeley, California. At the age of 18, Winsor made a list of her goals for life. Among those was her hope to write a best-selling novel. Winsor graduated in 1938 from the University of California, Berkeley. During her school years, she married a fellow student, All-American college football player Robert Herwig. In 1937, she began writing a thrice-weekly sports column for the ...more
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“If you had better sense you’d have learned by now that nothing thrives so well as wickedness” 25 likes
“They had stopped now and he gave a glance up at the sky, through the trees, as though to see how much time was left. Amber, watching him, was suddenly struck with panic. Now he was going--out again into that great world with its bustle and noise and excitement--and she must stay here. She had a terrible new feeling of loneliness, as if she stood in some solitary corner at a party where she was the only stranger. Those places he had seen, she would never see; those fine things he had done, she would never do. But worst of all she would never see him again.” 7 likes
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