Kirkus Star


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Poor, dumpy, rattled Queen Anne of England (1665-1714) is as far removed from Elizabeth (see Holt, above) as Red Queen from White Queen, but again Plaidy/Holt, although ostensibly concerned with the famous rivalry between Sarah Churchill and her shrewd cousin Abigail Hill, has her eye keenly set on royalty. And this time Plaidy has turned out a most entertaining queen indeed: bogged down by the helpless adoration of a dolt of a husband, by her doomed crippled child, and by addled forays into politics, Anne--through a fog of sentiment--occasionally manages good works and a slim trace of dim regal authority. But above all, Anne is a born victim. So Abigail, rescued from ""the broom"" by her handsome, ambitious, and willful cousin Sarah, and barely tolerated in Sarah's household as a poor relation, becomes chamber woman for the queen and gradually realizes that her soothing poultices for gouty regal limbs and her gentle flatteries can swerve the queen's affections away from the imperious demands of Anne's girlhood chum Sarah. And Sarah, on the wane, fights back, all the way down and out. Although the character of Sarah is stitched from primary colors--devoted wife, fierce mother, dominating friend, dreadful adversary--and though Abigail remains drab, the Queen is a caution. A good many Plaidys have placed well below the salt, but this one has, if not class, at least a hint of real presence.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1978
Publisher: Putnam