Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill

Praise and Reviews

Named a Book Sense Notable Book for August, 2006 by the American Booksellers Association.
Named an Editor’s Choice title, Historical Novels Review

“Sarah Jennings's ascent from poverty as a 13-year-old to the highest echelons of late 17th- and early 18th-century English society has all the trappings of supermarket tabloids: intrigue, treachery, deceit and sexual scandals. In this first-person telling, Scott takes a near-scholarly approach but maintains the thrills as Sarah and her equally ambitious husband, John Churchill, risk charges of treason (and thus, their necks) to ensure the crown for Anne Stuart. Sarah and John become the ultimate power couple: she gets her way, her riches and her title nearly without sacrificing her own principles, while John, despite his personal ambition, seeks the best for his family and country, becoming England's greatest military hero. If each is a bit too good to be true, that is a hazard of the first person and is easy to overlook with two such interesting and able characters. That Sarah is an ancestor of both Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer gives this novel appeal to several generations of historical fiction readers.”
--Publishers Weekly

“To some, being maid of honor to the heir's wife might seem like the ultimate in luxury and influence. For Sarah Jennings, whose family has been left penniless by war, it is the very opposite of a secure and comfortable position. Instead, she and her beloved John Churchill struggle to weather the political and religious storms that wash over the household of James II of England. These two commoners, who rose to become the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, know the tenuous and dangerous nature of such seeming security and how far the fall from favor can be. Prolific historical novelist Scott's elegantly crafted story of two charismatic soul mates who gave up the chance to marry others, preferring wealth and advancement, is sure to appeal to lovers of good historical fiction.”
--Library Journal

“No dry dust of history here, but a vivid portrait of an intriguing woman with all her flaws and strengths. Rich in period detail, the novel also has all the ingredients necessary for a compelling read, conflict, suspense, intrigue, and the romance between Sarah and John Churchill, one of history's great love stories.”
--Susan Carroll, author of The Silver Rose

“Compelling; it grips the reader from the very first sentence and never lets go. Scott does a wonderful job of bringing Lady Sarah and her world to life.”
--Jeanne Kalogridis, author of I, Mona Lisa and The Borgia Bride

“As wickedly entertaining as Sarah Churchill herself, DUCHESS tells the tale of the girl who was born a commoner, yet became the first Duchess of Marlborough and the richest woman in England.- Scott bring Sarah blazingly alive in all her sharp-edged beauty and determination.- Not to be missed!”
--Mary Jo Putney, author of The Marriage Spell

“Susan Holloway Scott has brought to life the racy world of post-Restoration England in her richly researched and beautifully written DUCHESS.”
--Karen Harper, author of The Last Boleyn

“With bold strokes and bright historical details, Scott tells the fascinating story of a daring, charismatic and ambitious woman. Sarah grabs life with both hands and goes after what she wants with verve. In the end, she founded a political dynasty that gave us Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Diana. Kudos to Scott for bringing her to us.”

“This wonderful fictional biography of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, whisks the reader into a period rife with intrigue, love, sex, war and religious strife. Told through Sarah’s eyes, Duchess follows her life from her first days at court in the 1670s until her return from exile just before the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

“There are so many reasons to recommend this book, from its myriad believable characters, ably drawn setting, polished and fluent prose, to its ability to totally immerse the reader in the past. We watch Sarah grow from a young woman of ambition and inner strength to a political and social leader at Queen Anne’s court. But her success doesn’t come without sacrifice, petty rivalry or danger, especially when she and her husband, John, throw their support behind the rebellion against James II. The reader experiences it all in glorious detail. 

Scott’s in-depth research is clear from her setting and plot, yet she doesn’t overwhelm the reader with minutiae; her clear prose evokes the language of the period without falling into the realms of gadzookery. Readers will also find that the story moves along at a fine pace. Sarah recounts those events of most importance to her, and it is interesting to note how she moves through time more quickly as her relationship with Anne begins to crumble.

What ties this book together, though, is the love match between Sarah and John. Despite many separations due to his military career and their somewhat divergent views on politics and child-raising, the reader never doubts the depth of their love and the strength it gives them, both individually and as a couple.
“Readers looking for a true escape into the past will want to add this book to their collection and their keeper shelf.”
An Editor’s Choice Title
--Historical Novels Review