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Exit the Actress

Exit the Actress - Priya Parmar

While 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. 


This wasn't bad,  just entirely too loooooong.  The epistolary style was clever,  but wore thin after about 300 pages.  The story was good,  splashes of history were told in Nell's letters,  as well as King Charles' and his sister's. 


I didn't connect with Nell as I would have liked.  I don't know if it's because her character wasn't fleshed out on the page or because her motivations were so foreign to me.  


Not bad,  but not memorable.