History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

01 July 2007

Historical Novel Society raves about TOO GREAT A LADY

At last I've gotten hold of the review of my novel TOO GREAT A LADY: the Notorious, Glorious Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton, by Sarah Johnson, editor of The Historical Novel Review. Sarah was the prime mover and shaker behind last month's Historical Novel Society conference, about which Lynna and I recently blogged. Sarah read my post on the Pirate seminar as well as the post discussion I initiated about the differences and distinctions between historical fiction and historical romance, and was so excited about what the hoydens were saying that she linked our blog to hers -- http://www.readingthepast.blogspot.com/

Her own blog post directed her readers to the discussion on our site, which she said was well worth reading, as is my novel TOO GREAT A LADY, which she reviewed for the society's May review issue. I asked Sarah if she could email me her review, et voila!

I've been dancing around the room for the past week.

Amanda Elyot, New American Library, 2007, $14.00/C$17.50, pb, 412pp, 9780451220547

Elyot (the pseudonym used by actress-novelist Leslie Carroll for her historical novels) presents a sweeping, emotionally intense portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton, half of one of the most famous romantic couples from history. Emma tells her life story in the form of a fictional confession, which she writes from a London debtors’ prison in 1814, less than a year before her death.

For readers not familiar with Emma Hamilton, Elyot recounts everything here, in lush and magnificent detail: her poverty-stricken childhood in North Wales; her time spent as mistress to several wealthy aristocrats; her marriage to the much older Sir William Hamilton, England’s ambassador to Naples, a love match in truth; her close friendship with Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Sicily, which made her an important yet unofficial envoy in the war against France; and her all-encompassing love affair with Horatio Nelson, England’s greatest naval hero. Although beautiful, witty Emma continually reinvents herself as she ascends society’s ladder, changing her name several times and improving her education, her irrepressible, saucy attitude remains, along with her unfashionable country accent. Rather than simply disobeying society’s rules, she ignores them altogether, and – for a time at least – people love her for it. Yet despite all the glory, her story is ultimately tragic; she renounces parentage of her daughters for their own sake, and with Nelson’s death at Trafalgar, she loses her country’s affection and respect.
Emma Hamilton is a historical novelist’s dream subject, and her fictional voice is as entertaining as it is convincing. Elyot is a rising star in the realm of biographical fiction, and to me Too Great a Lady is as good as anything Margaret George ever wrote. -- Sarah Johnson


Blogger Christine Wells said...

Congratulations on a wonderful review, Amanda! You must be ecstatic!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Tracy Grant said...

Congratulations, Amanda! That is an absolutely wonderful review (and makes me even more eager to read the book!). Hope you went out to a fabulous dinner or bought yourself a splurge treat or otherwise celebrated!
The Reading the Past blog link is really interesting too.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Thanks, ladies! I've been so mired in research for my wip that my celebration came in the form of comfort food: I treated myself to a slice of pizza and an ice cream cone (on the way back from a trip to the library) like I was at a second grader's birthday party! Why didn't I think of champagne? The first person I shared the review with was my editor, who wants to excerpt a jacket quote for my next historical novel (ALL FOR LOVE), my Mary Robinson book.

4:17 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Well done, Amanda. Cannot wait to see what you do with Mary Robinson!

5:24 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Wow! fanTAStic, Amanda.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Big CONGRATS, Amanda!!! Wahoo!

9:22 AM  
Blogger aromagik said...

Awesome review, and well deserved!


6:12 AM  

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