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Exit the Actress: A Novel Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Exit the Actress: A Novel + The Darling Strumpet: A Novel of Nell Gwynn, Who Captured the Heart of England and King Charles II
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439171173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439171172
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A real triumph….A vivid imagining of the restoration London of Charles II with Nell Gwynn as a powerful and engaging heroine set in the busy world of the theater. This debut novel captures the glamorous world of the amoral court and the struggle of the city. Priya Parmar is a writer to watch.”
—Philippa Gregory
Author of The Other Boleyn Girl

"Clever ... a delight ... irresistible ... I loved this book."
-- Sharon Kay Penman, author of Devil's Brood

“Nell is irrepressible, spunky, delightful: who wouldn’t fall in love with her? Her story unfolds through diary entries, letters, news announcements, recipes. It¹s a tasty and often amusing confection, sure to please. I absolutely adored it.”
—Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun

About the Author

Priya Parmar, a former dramaturg and freelance editor holds degrees in English Literature and theatre and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh.  She divides her time between Hawaii and London.  Visit her website at PriyaParmar.com.

More About the Author

Priya Parmar is a former freelance editor and dramaturg. She holds degrees in literature and theatre and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She divides her time between Hawaii and London. Exit the Actress is her first book.

Customer Reviews

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Popular Discussion Topics

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christine Bode on June 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Exit The Actress by Priya Parmar is historical romantic fiction set in England between the years 1662 and 1670 during the Restoration reign of King Charles II. A young orange girl named Ellen Gwyn becomes a celebrated actress known as Nell, who finds herself involved in a succession of relationships with three men, all named Charles. Her story, which is based in fact, is revealed through a series of journal entries, letters, broadsheets and other historical documents.

According to Wikipedia: "Eleanor "Nell" Gwyn (or Gwynn or Gwynne) (2 February 1650 - 14 November 1687) was a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England.

Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has been called a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella.

Elizabeth Howe, in The First English Actresses, says she was "the most famous Restoration actress of all time, possessed of an extraordinary comic talent."

However, it also states that "Gwyn was illiterate her entire life (signing her initials "E.G." would be the extent of her ability to read or write), adding an extra complication to the memorisation of her lines."

While those last two "facts" didn't quite come across, Exit The Actress is an intriguing imaginary account of Ellen's life right up until the end of the book when a short and disappointing Epilogue rather awkwardly ties up the story.

Other than that, there are two other things that I didn't care for, the first being how small the regular font is and how hard the secondary scriptwriting font is to read throughout.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lyn Meadows on March 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although my usual is to read books that are mostly told from one perspective, I have read a couple of historical fiction books before that tell the story from the perspective of several characters. Most of them alternate the viewpoints by chapter. What is really different about this book is the use of the different mediums: the letters between the English King and his family, Those between the theater owners, the gossip column, the notes from Parliament meetings to represent the different perspectives. Although this method is unconventional, I particularly liked it because it made it easier to keep where each perspective was coming from clearer in my mind.

This book is first and foremost about Ellen Gwynn, who eventually became the mistress of Charles II of England. Underneath that story, though, Priya Parmar includes A LOT of information about many different characters. It required slower reading to get it all in. But, on the other hand, it was wonderful because we not only got to know Ellen, but got a lot of other info about English society during this period.

Some may say that there are items in this book, such as Ellen's literacy, that are not true to the times or the history of her life. The literacy issue, in particular, is addressed by the author in her notes at the end of the book. And in truth, I am not one to get embroiled in the veracity of most fictional accounts. Either way you feel, this is a great story with a strong female protagonist and as such is excellent reading.

In closing, I really enjoyed both the subject matter (Duh, history buff, here) and the unconventional writing style used by Priya in this book. I loved the characters in this story - they were all so real and vibrant. I can't wait to see what her next project will be! Well done, Priya!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miss Belgravia on January 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
Ellen ("Nell") Gwynn has always fascinated me, and this book immersed me in Nell's world. Told through her journals, letters, snippets from gossip columns, and other sources, Ms. Parmar paints a brilliant picture of life in London between 1662 and 1670. The sights and smells, the food and drink, the life of the rich and the poor are brought to vivid life. The inside look at theater life, the royal court, and the events of those times -- the plague, the Great Fire, international politics -- are all explored with fresh eyes. Most of the book details Nell's life before the beginning of her affair with Charles II, but he is always there on the fringes of her life, until their affair is finally consummated. A beautifully rendered novel, which will be enjoyed by all. I look forward to Ms. Parmar's next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
This started out with a lot of promise. The very young Ellen (Nell) Gwynn moves up from selling smelly oysters on the street to hawking oranges at the theater. Nell becomes aware that her mother is a madam who has pressed Nell's teenage sister into service. Somewhere in her grooming to be an actress (and affair with the famed actor Charles Hart), it bogs down, has a few good moments and then ends abruptly.

I liked the diary style, but Nell, with her limited education, would never write like this. Nell's voice across the centuries might make difficult reading, but regardless of why this style was selected, the humor/wit she is known should at least be glimpsed.

Letters exchanged between the King, his sister and his mother are placed to correspond with Nell's diary entries. These are good and witty. They bring out likely attitudes and concerns of these royals. There are also gossip column items from an Ambrose Pink, esq., and recipes for dishes and creams which don't add to the narrative and could be cut.

The characters are one dimensional. They speak and act within their stereotypes. King Charles is always wise and sensitive. Nell and Rose have an ideal sister relationship. The understated Queen Catherine accepts Nell with pure grace. Nell's grandfather (a minister) is supportive of all that she does. Nell puts up with her mother without a hint of resentment. Charles Hart remains a hurt but ardent admirer. Nell, who lacks the humor and wit attributed to the real Nell, follows with her heart, asking nothing of the king.

The idea is good, and there are parts with merit and it's always fun to visit Restoration England. For her first book, this author has chosen a challenging subject.
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