Slammerkin author Donoghue takes readers to the Beau Monde era, where a pen stroke can lead to ruin, and introduces three lesser-known historical figures: young widow and sculptress Mrs. Anne Darner; the wealthiest and ugliest man in Parliament, the Earl of Derby; and the queen of Drury Lane comedy, actress Miss Eliza Farren.

Lord Derby has been chasing the lovely Eliza for years, trying to convince her to marry him when his invalid wife dies. It is through Derby that Anne makes Eliza's acquaintance, and their platonic friendship begins, but rumors of sapphism swirling around Anne endanger their friendship.

An authentic picture of an era seething with a need for change, colorful characters and more colorful cultural details make for an engaging, fascinating read.

Donoghue's intuitive understanding of the time period takes readers straight into the heart of her story and the minds of her characters. This is a finely tuned work of historical fiction that intrigues and titillates. (Sep., 672 pp., $26.00)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin