Daphne du Maurier is probably more known for her romance/mystery novels, but has packed a powerful novel in this historical fiction based upon the true life of her great-great-grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke. Mary Anne Clarke began her life in the slums of the city scraping to get by in life. Her family was poor and struggled to make ends meet, when her father was struck ill she tricked his boss so the family would still be allotted his salary.
As a young woman barely of marrying age she was drawn in by the promise of riches from a Joseph Clarke and rush to live blissfully ever after. This bliss was not to last as he was not as set in life as he led her to believe and what money he did scrape together at an odd job he squander away elsewhere.
After having had enough of this lifestyle she is determined to take herself and the kids to seek a better life. Her chosen path was to be mistress to many in return for rent, money, furniture, food, baubles, etc. All the time she allowed herself to be pestered with the everyday man she had her eyes set on landing a man of riches. She is able to succeed in this and becomes the mistress to the Duke of York in the early 1800's.
She understood that everything she accepted in life came with a price tag, "The first, to remember in future that face value counted for nothing, that every act of apparent generosity hid an ulterior motive, and one motive only when the benefactor was male." She was willing to accept that if it meant her children could grow up in a better lifestyle, and she enjoyed the fine trinkets as well.
As her past comes back to haunt her she falls from the Duke of York's favor and must fight for what she feels is justly due her. With her as an ally those who don't favor the current political structure wish to use her knowledge of the Duke to turn the tides in their favor. A court battle ensues and she must call in all her favors to pick up the pieces. She must continue to fight for her children's future and pulls out all the stops, she was forbidden from writing about her time with the Duke but she did publish a work regarding others she met along the way which I hope to read, The Rival Princes, Or, A Faithful Narrative of Facts: Relating to Mrs. M. A. Clarke's Political Acquaintance...
This was one of my Top Ten picks for 2013.
[Notice: Original posting 2014-01-01 at Plethora of Books Blog: http://bookchallenges.weebly.com]
Tags: Top Ten by Year, 2013, Mystery, Historical Fiction