Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Exit the Actress" by Priya Parmar

I've been reading The Plum Bean Project for nearly a year now. If you've ever had the chance to check it out, you know that Priya has a truly lovely writing style. I once compared it to cheesecake (delicious: rich, filling and sweet) but I think that's the wrong type of dessert. I love cheesecake, but it's so heavy. Priya's writing is much more lighthearted. Maybe like a good french silk pie with a wonderfully tender crust.

Of course I have been eager to read her debut novel, Exit the Actress, ever since I first heard about it; it was released last week, so I've finally had that opportunity. Priya has written the story of 17th century English stage actress Nell Gwyn, chronicling her rise from humble beginnings to the bed of King Charles II. The book is written in a familiar, gossipy manner, entirely composed of diary entries and various forms of correspondence.

Despite my anticipation, as I first began to read I found myself thinking that I prefer a book with bigger balls. The most recent historical fiction I read was much more boldly written and I loved it for that. During the first 80 cautious and inoffensive pages of Exit the Actress I was disgruntled and wanted a bit more oomph, but then I settled in and began to really enjoy it. The writing throughout the entire book was just as beautiful as I had come to expect from Priya, and the story gives a charming glimpse into Restoration London. Reading her wikipedia entry gives me the idea that Nell was much more bawdy and indecorous than the delightful and sprightly girl portrayed in Exit the Actress, but Priya's version makes for a much sweeter love story between Nell and the king.

If you are a fan of historical fiction I bet you can't help but love Exit the Actress. Girls only, though, I think. I'm already looking forward to Priya's next book which will take us back to London, this time during World War I.


Nikola said...

Hey, don't discriminate! I'm a guy and I love historical fiction! :)

This book sounds fabulous, I can't wait to read it! :)

Kathy said...

Oops, sorry! I just thought it was kind of a girly book. But you may love it too! Since you are eager to read it, I thought I would tell you about the giveaway at Kate's Library. Sign up here to win a copy of this book before Feb 28!