Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill” as Want to Read:
Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  1,315 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
London, 1673. With her family ruined by war, penniless thirteen year old Sarah Jennings is overjoyed to be chosen as a maid of honor at the bawdy Restoration court of Charles II. She soon wins the trust of Lady Anne of York, a lonely princess who becomes one of her staunchest allies. And though Sarah's beauty stirs the desires of the jaded aristocrats, she wants a grander ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by New American Library (first published January 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Duchess, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Duchess

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mandy Moody
Duchess is the story of Sarah Churchill. It's based on her actual memiors and is pretty accurate, but still fascinating, which is always nice!
Sarah is an admirable woman - very ambitious and strong willed. I loved her story.
This is the second of Scotts books I've read, and I'm currently reading a third. I am very impressed by her writing! Her attention to detail and her fact-based character development is really a treat to read! Anyone that's dabbled in historical fiction should check out her w
Emery Lee
Much more of a political account than I expected.
It was interesting from a historical perspective but I could never warm to Sarah. I would, however, like to read more of John Churchill.

One other thing bothered me, given the extensive research that went into this novel, there was a major historical innacuracy in the author's note.

She writes that James Francis Edward Stuart had only one son, Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This is incorrect. He had a second surviving son by the sa
Amanda J
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Publishers Weekly:
"Sarah Jennings's ascent from poverty as a 13-year-old to the highest echelons of late 17th- and early 18th-century English society has all the trappings of supermarket tabloids: intrigue, treachery, deceit and sexual scandals. In this first-person telling, Scott takes a near-scholarly approach but maintains the thrills as Sarah and her equally ambitious husband, John Churchill, risk charges of treason (and thus, their necks) to ensure the crown for Anne Stuart. Sarah and
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and most interesting! Sarah Churchill makes a very lively heroine and character. A smart, strong woman who could play "games" with the best of the aristocracy.This book whetted my appetite for more of Sarah.
It was okay, interesting for the 'historical' aspect to see how the court ran and so forth. Didn't like the unnecessary sex scenes.
Elis Madison
OK, I'm a geek for history. But many times, reading factual historical books is, well….


Not so here. This is a historical novel—meaning it's kind of a hybrid between the dry historical texts you'll find in university libraries and the wholly fictional (with varying amounts of "factoids" salted in for veritas) historical romance novel. While I give some HR authors (Monica McCarty, Jane Feather, Denise Domning, etc.) a great deal of credit for their historical research, historical novels (at
Renae, Lady Disdain
Sarah Churchill, the first Duchess of Marlborough, is a fascinating and important (though oft-forgotten) figure from England’s Stuart era. Duchess portrays Sarah’s rise from a low-born commoner to the most trusted adviser of a queen, after whose death she became the richest woman in England, due to her political and financial cunning. Together with her beloved husband, John Churchill, Sarah founded a long-standing legacy that has included Sir Winston Churchill and Diana Spencer, Princess of Wale ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read many books about women striving to be the King's favorite. This book is about becoming the Queen's favorite. Sarah was a commoner, but earns herself a spot in King James II's household. Sarah and a young Anne become close as thieves and Anne only trusts and loves Sarah. Anne is shy while Sarah is beautiful, outgoing and cunningly smart. The author takes us through a passionate affair, dethroning of a King and ultimately Anne becoming Queen herself. John Churchill marries Sarah for love ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Usually, this is a book I would have liked a lot, but somehow, it just didn't grab me as much as I thought it would.

This novel tells the story of Sarah Churchill and her machinations to secure a position for herself and her family in 17th century English court. At first her actions were easily understood in the context of wanting something better for her children, but in the end her manoeuvering simply seemed to be cunning and distasteful. (Sarah Churchill was an ancestor of Sir Winston Churchil
Jan 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Churchill was a fascinating woman and this book captures her spirit. What I loved about this book was the romance between Sarah and John Churchill and the glipse into English history during the reign of Charles II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Sarah Churchill rose from poverty to power through a friendship with Queen Anne when they were both young girls. Also I discovered the fact through her daughter Anne's marriage into the Spencer family that Diana, princess of Wales, was a descende ...more
Sarah Churchill was a celebrity in her own right. Strong, intense, ambitious, loving, intelligent... basically all of the positive feminist terms can describe her outright. Scott intricately weaves Churchill's own memoirs with a penache for historical fiction. What does this mean? That you will not be able to put the book down.

Instead of the usual focus on sex and lost popular in the royal courts and novel covering such; Scott instead focuses on the ambitions and struggles of Sarah Churchill. T
Usually Sarah Churchill is cast in the role of manipulative power hungry friend to poor Queen Anne. This however gives us a different interpretation of the friendship. Here the two women are both good and bad, both taking advantage of the other. Sarah is given the benefit of the doubt in some cases and written with a more modern accounting of personality of forceful woman. This was enjoyable reading of the history of these two women.
Jun 16, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lesbian romance novel packaged as historical fiction. It could have been so much better.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katherine Gypson
I was quite excited to read my first Susan Holloway Scott book since I've heard so many good things out there on other historical fiction blogs. Unfortunately, my expectations did not quite meet the reality of the book. As imagined by Scott, Sarah Jennings Churchill is an engaging and vibrant woman. We first see her in the midst of one of the greatest crises of her life before backtracking to her origins and her start as a maid at King Charles II's court.

Despite her constant desire for power and
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Duchess is the debut novel from historical fication author Susan Holloway Scott. Though I've already read one of Scott's other novels, I've kind of gone on a mission to read all of her books, even from the beginning. Though I typically don't read Restoration-era fiction, there are a few interesting ones out there I've read from the period and I trust that Scott won't let me down.

Duchess tells the story of Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlbrough. Born into a commoner family, young Sarah goes t
Apr 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spanning Sarah Churchill's life, it follows her rise and close friendship with (eventual) queen Anne of England. Sarah is a fascinating and relatable character (although I did sometimes wonder how much of her emotional life was true). She's involved in politics, passionately in love with her husband (throughout the 30 years they spent together! Unfortunately, their moments are some of the least believable in the book), and emotional support and sometime lover to the queen (I really appreciated h ...more
Virginia Myers

I read this book for a book club. My over-riding question is “Why?”

Why would anyone think this book would be a good one for our book club to read and discuss. I began the book thinking I would enjoy it since historical fiction is my favorite type of book but I found it to be more like a dime store novel than a true attempt to provide readers with an interesting look at history.

As to measuring the quality of how the book was written, I guess it would be rather neutral. I cannot point out any gre
There are a lot of factors involved in how much I enjoy a book. Often my expectations play a big part in how I feel when I'm done reading. The subject matter of course plays a part and while the writing can be enjoyable and well researched if the protagonist is someone I don't care for that also influences my enjoyment, which is what happened for me with this story.

Susan Holloway Scott portrays Sarah Churchill as a bright, capable and strong young woman who manages to triumph in the face of repe
Elisha (lishie)
I really enjoyed this novel and felt like the writing influenced me like Sarah Churchill influenced Princess Anne... very effectively. Stories like this always make me really wonder- would it have been better to be poor or to live & breathe with the royals? So much sacrifice, all of the lies, the acting, the betrayal... And then the trysts. I was afraid this would be a "bodice ripper" but it was not so bad- the scenes seemed to be there for a reason. The death toll in this book is large, it ...more
The novel is set in the late 1600's and the early 1700's, it is the story of Sarah Churchill and it is eloquently told in the first person. Unfortunately this is the 2nd novel that I've read of Susan Holloway Scott's and it lacked the passion and emotional connection of 'The Royal Harlot'. The novel is again set in the bawdy court of Charles II but Sarah is certainly not the normal 'Lady of the Bedchamber'. Through great personal risk Sarah helps to bring Princess Anne and her husband to the thr ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this many months ago and apparently never left a review. I remember it to be a compelling drama about a proto-feminist woman of serious political clout in the royal court of late 18th-century England. In fact, the protagonist would do her descendant Winston Churchill proud! Only complaints: the depiction of her relationship with her husband had a juvenile, idyllic quality worthy of a dime-store romance; and I did not enjoy the descriptions of her sexual dalliances with the queen (who ...more
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of John and Sarah Churchill from Sarah's point of view. It starts just before she joins the court and becomes companion to Princess Anne. It's along the same lines as The Boleyn Series by Phillipa Gregory - historical fiction with a strong basis in fact. I liked this novel because of its strong basis in fact and that the author doesn't shy away from showing some of the bad characteristics of its main characters. Sarah probably wasn't as sympathetic in real life as she came acro ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a lover of history, I already knew about Queen Anne & Sarah Churchill (as well as her famous decendants, Sir Winston & Princess Diana). With this scant knowledge, I was very excited to read about Sarah herself & discover more about her & her dearly loved husband, John.
This book covers so much of Sarah ' s life and I was pleasantly surprised to read so much about Queen Anne as well.
My only true complaint may be that the book started a bit slow, but I was very happy to find that
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay...I just started this book and am only on Chapter 3. It may seem too early to review yet, but I couldn't wait and will update when I'm finished. The pace is a wee bit slow right now. BUT the writing is AMAZING, not necessarily lyrical, but poetic. Wonderful description and unique sensory detail. Some of the best I've read since Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to the rest of this story!

Update: I finished this story (once I had time to focus on it) in about 2 days. It's a good read. The pac
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have an interest in this time period or in the British monarchy I do think this book is worth reading, as the author covers in detail the reigns of four Stuart monarchs. Another pro was the focus on powerful women of this time period, as history tends to glaze over their lives and contributions.

The reason for the three stars was that I never became invested in any of the characters or their relationships. Nothing that happened to any of them, good or bad, really moved me at all. I feel t
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel sticks to the facts known about the Sarah Churchill for the most part; it does assume a lesbian relationship with Queen Anne. The book is a fast read and a kind look at a woman quite unpopular in her own day. The book does emphasize her long relationship with John Churchill as a marriage for love, very unusual in its day. Sarah Churchill comes across as aggressively ambitious, politically savvy with an unusual head for business, one who navigated the intrigue of the English court and ...more
Sarah Wagner
A fascinating story of Sarah Jennings, who rose from obscurity to be one of the wealthiest duchesses in England and took an important role in history. Through her marriage to John Churchill, a talented soldier who became the first Duke of Marlborough, and her friendship with the future Queen Anne, Sarah occupied an important place in the political power structure of late seventeenth-century England. However, she could also push too far and I felt that the deterioration of her relationship with A ...more
Helen Azar
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fictional biography of Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlboro, the ancestress of the Prime Minister Winston Churchill. I watched the BBC mini-series before I read this book, which was excellent, and a nice intro to the Churchill family history. The author did a very good job recounting this very interesting woman's life in a fictional form. She clearly did a lot of research, and for the most part the novel stays loyal to historical facts, which is what I liked about it, in addition t ...more
Victoria Vane
Much more of a political account than I expected.
It was interesting from a historical perspective but I could never warm to Sarah. I would, however, like to read more of John Churchill.

One other thing bothered me, given the extensive research that went into this novel, there was a major historical innacuracy in the author's note.

She writes that James Francis Edward Stuart had only one son, Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This is incorrect. He had a second surviving son by the sa
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Perfect Royal Mistress
  • Now Face to Face (Tamworth Saga, #3)
  • The King's Touch
  • Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor
  • Too Great a Lady: The Notorious, Glorious Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton
  • The Merry Monarch's Wife (Queens of England, #9)
  • The Huntress (The Dark Queen Saga, #4)
  • Lady of the Roses: A Novel of the Wars of the Roses
  • The Exiled (War of the Roses, #2)
  • The Queen's Handmaiden
  • Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King
  • Daughter of York
  • A Question of Guilt: A Novel of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Death of Henry Darnley
  • Wife to Charles II
  • His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester
  • Plain Jane
  • The Darling Strumpet
  • The Poyson Garden (Elizabeth I, #1)
Aka Miranda Jarrett
Aka Isabella Bradford

Susan Holloway Scott is the author of over fifty historical novels and historical romances. Writing under several pen names, she has received numerous awards and honors for her bestselling books. With more than three million copies of her books in print, she has been published in nineteen foreign countries around the world and translated into fourteen differ
More about Susan Holloway Scott...

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »