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Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  11 reviews
According to the great diarist, John Evelyn, Charles II was 'addicted to women', and throughout his long reign a great many succumbed to his charms. Clever, urbane and handsome, Charles presided over a hedonistic court, in which licence and licentiousness prevailed.
Mistresses is the story of the women who shared Charles's bed, each of whom wielded influence on both the pol
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 16th 2020 by Pan Macmillan
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Andrea Zuvich
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Less sexual and more political than the title would lead one to believe, this is solid work about some very fascinating women and a worthy addition to the study of Stuart history.

Read my full review on The Seventeenth Century Lady:
Helen Carolan
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I've read about these women in other books so was disappointed that there was nothing new here. What made things worse was the fact that all the sex and scandal were glossed over. Could have been so much better and even the moments of wit couldn't quite save this one. ...more
karolina v
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: june-21
a genuinely interesting read. very entertaining.
Meghan Hosch
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, history
I read a lot of micro history and this is one of the few books I enjoyed so thoroughly I just had to comment.

Too often, English history focuses solely on the monarchs and not enough on the people surrounding the monarchs or even just living at the time. While this book focuses on his mistresses who are (as expected) of the nobility, it’s very refreshing to learn about wildly different women and how their lives are affected by the patriarchal and rigidly moral Restoration period.

This book brings
Rhiannon Williams
Apr 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
As with most historical non-fiction, this is really well researched, with particular attention paid to the political context of each woman, which is refreshingly helpful if you don't know much about this era and King Charles II. There certainly is sex and scandal in this, though not if you compare it to some more graphic fiction texts, but that is not a bit of me, so I was pretty happy with this. The writing is informative, but never dry, and quite wry and witty in places. My only criticism is t ...more
Don Dealga
Jul 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting account of the women in Charles II's life. This book gives a lot more 'voice' and a sense of who these women really were, their strength, their complexity, their struggles, their agency in the context of their time; bringing their stories more to the fore and giving us a much better sense of their lives than more traditional male-centric historical accounts. Catherine of Braganza is also extensively discussed in this work adding more texture and perspective to the narrative. ...more
L.A. Berry
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I picked a copy of this at a book club because I like historical literature. It is an interesting non-fiction account of the many loves of Charles II. It is well researched and gives an insight to the attractions of the women and why they appealed to the king but sometimes the facts got in the way of understanding and relating to the characters.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Was my first time reading about Charles II, loved how it was written, interesting all the way through. Slightly more political than I thought but that’s the story of the women’s lives and how they hustled the king. Really, really good. 100% recommend for a beginner
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Basically, quite enjoyable fluffy chapters on the lives of the major mistresses of Charles II, cunningly hiding in the form of a group historical biography. Porter does provide political and historical context, and of course the fates of mistresses often parallel the fates of administrations, factions, and fashions, but it’s not highly academic by any means.
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
My knowledge of the Stuart monarchy is very poor indeed, maybe at 1 or 2 out of 10 at best. I decided to read this book as I wanted to rectify that sad state of affairs but sadly, after reaching the end of it, I can honestly say that I'm no better off than I was before. There is nothing new about these women in this book. Nothing at all.

When dealing with Nell Gywn the author begins her section by talking about theatre politics and the role of women on the stage in general before finally getting
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Linda Porter was born in Exeter, Devon in 1947. Her family have long-standing connections to the West Country, but moved to the London area when she was a small child. She was educated at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks and at the University of York, from which she has

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