by Daphne du Maurier
Publication Date: January 1, 1954
In Regency London, the only way for a woman to succeed is to beat men at their own game. So when Mary Anne Clarke seeks an escape from her squalid surroundings in Bowling Inn Alley, she ventures first into the scurrilous world of the pamphleteers. Her personal charms are such, however, that before long she comes to the notice of the Duke of York. With her taste for luxury and power, Mary Anne, now a royal mistress, must aim higher. Her lofty connections allow her to establish a thriving trade in military commissions, provoking a scandal that rocks the government - and brings personal disgrace. A vivid portrait of overweening ambition, MARY ANNE is set during the Napoleonic Wars and based on du Maurier's own great-great- grandmother.
Continuing my quest to read all of Du Maurier’s work, I picked up Mary Anne because I really wanted a book that I could sink into and enjoy during a spell of bad weather. Mary Anne was perfect for this. This is a novel of historical fiction, set in Regency England, which is not a genre / setting I often pick. However, I really felt transported into the story and the time, and I loved Mary Anne’s character, a feisty woman holding her own in a world ruled by men. I liked her even tho some of her actions were … questionable.
I guess, I also really liked how the story turned out. Without saying too much, I would say that any other ending would have been too twee, unrealistic, and probably would have spoiled the book for me. Du Maurier did not write in the romance genre, and Mary Anne, despite the book’s focus on the main character’s relationships, certainly was not a heroine – romantic or otherwise – in many ways. In other ways, tho, Mary Anne totally rocked.
I’m glad I finally read it, even tho I would not rate the book as a favourite by the author.