Phyllis R. (Rochester Hills, MI)
La Belle Stuart and the Merry Monarch
If you like British historical fiction, "Girl on the Golden Coin' is highly recommended. The "girl" is Frances Stuart, one of many mistresses to King Charles II. (1661-1685) The "coin" is a copper farthing minted in 1673 in which "La Belle Stuart" is engraved on one side by Rottier and the "Merry Monarch" on the other.
The novel is set in Paris in the court of Louis XIV and moves to London where rumors of war, the Plague, Great Fire of 1666 and many trysts and intrigues are chronicled. The author gives a list of characters at the front of the book which is most helpful for the reader to decipher the royal relationship.
Frances Stuart kept her virtue and virginity above playing politics and eventually became Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. Each chapter begins with a poem or quotation exhorting her beauty and cunning.
Author Marcie Jefferson has done extensive research using letters, diaries, and memoirs so one learns about fashion, hairstyles, architecture, and food during the Restoration. And that is why I like historical fiction!
Jeanne W. (Columbia, MD)
History is confusing
Marci Jefferson's first effort at historical fiction tells the story of Frances Stuart, a maid of honor to King Charles II's wife and his reputed mistress for a time. Deployed by Henri XIV to encourage peaceful relations between England and France, Frances tries to accomplish this without alienating her family from royal favor. Scandals abound along with details of jewels and clothes. The book is light on details of relationships and politics, but a "cast of characters" in the beginning helps. Researching Frances and Charles II on your own will help more. If you like historical fiction you will probably like this book. If you prefer your history straight up this book won't sway you.
Carol N. (Indian Springs Village, AL)
History as so-so fiction
I love historical fiction and that is my choice to read most of the time. I had such hopes for this book and while it did provide some historical information, mostly it read as a romance novel. It could have used less characters and have more detail on the few that were most relevant. When I saw the list of characters at the front of the book I was concerned that this would be the case. I wish I had liked this book more than I did.
Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)
Girl on the Golden Coin
Marci Jefferson's historical fiction centers on beautiful Francis Stuart, known as "La Belle," and her remarkable love life, which impacted 2 kings and influenced the course of history. This book offers something for everyone. History buffs will appreciate the close examination of the Restoration and King Charles II and his political decisions and problems with Parliament, while dealing with major religious zealots, the plague, the great fire of London, destruction of the Navy, and a smallpox epidemic. Romance seekers will have enough pages to enthrall (and occasionally cause a blush). As the story unfolds, one is swept from France to England, castle-to-castle, and confronted with various intrigues and alliances.. Who to trust? What does Frances really want? Is she a pawn or her own person?
I greatly appreciated the Dramatis Personae listing at the beginning of the book, and the helpful chapter headings and quotes as I plunged back in time. All in all, a most satisfying read!
Rosanne S. (Franklin Square, NY)
Girl on the Golden Coin
I knew nothing about Frances Stuart before reading Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson. For me the best I can say is that it is historically accurate. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and a very good way to be introduced to different time periods and personalities. I found that Girl on the Golden Coin trivializes history. Jefferson has sex, not strategy, determining historical outcomes.
I am not a fan of Phillpa Gregory either and would rather read a historical novel written more in the style of The Paris Wife by Paula Mc Lain or Nancy Horan's, Loving Frank. I think either author would have better portrayed Frances Stuart. For me, Jefferson painted Frances as a manipulative young woman with not much character. My own research on Frances Stuart indicates she was a dynamic, intelligent woman. Certainly, I did not see her like that in Jefferson's portrayal.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Girl on the Golden Coin to serious historical fiction readers. If you enjoy Harlequin novels with a bit of history, this one is for you.
Sarah B. (Streamwood, IL)
A good effort
This was a a very good first effort for this author. I thoroughly enjoyed the Stuart setting, it seems that so many of the historical fiction novels focus on the history of the Tudors. A bit more fleshing out of the characters would have been appreciated, but she set out to write about the history of Frances Stuart and she did that well.
Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
I found this book to be very predictable and slow moving. I love historical fiction but this was too much like a soap opera. Disclaimer: In fairness to this author, romance novels are not my favorite.