Monday, March 14, 2011

Exit The Actress by Priya Parmar


  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Genre : Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Source: Sent to me by the author in eBook format in return for an honest and unbiased review.
  • Review Quote : “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 theatre. 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


I think this will be the first of many successful novels that we will see in the years to come from this talented young lady. The fact that Philippa Gregory has commented so enthusiastically also convinced me that Priya Parmar is a name to watch. Until recently Philippa Gregory was the only historical authoress I read with any regularity as I have always been impressed by the way her novels are well researched to combine fact with fiction.

This is exactly what Priya Parmar has done with her debut novel by choosing a real person Nell Gwynn as her protagonist and she has written an excellent fictional story around the facts. Nell Gwynn was in her day the most famous actress in London and the King’s mistress. Written in the form of diary entries, newspaper gossip columns, letters, home remedies, invitations and court announcements the reader is quickly immersed in 17C life revolving around the Gwynn family.  The diaries open when Nell is only 12 and her sister Rose 14.  She lives with her mother Nora and her grandfather Dr Edward Gwynn who used to live in Oxford with his sister Margaret, but has moved to London to keep an eye on his granddaughters as their mother is always drunk and his son Thomas their father is dead. 

Nell gwyn peter lely c 1675.jpgNell Gwynn – Wikipedia

It is after  Ellen "Nell" Gwyn begins working as an orange girl in the Theatre Royal, Convent Garden, that leads to her discovery and eventual career as an actress. Her natural charm and personality also lead to her in time being noticed by the notorious ladies man King Charles II. Her diaries show Nell to be a captivating young lady who struggles to support herself rather than falling into the same traps as her alcoholic mother and sister who work as prostitutes.

I knew the story of Nell Gwynn and the historical setting before reading this book as this was a period I studied at school. I do not recall it being so interesting in our textbooks though! In my opinion Priya Parmar has succeeded in writing a realistic portrayal of characters from English history that make for a very readable novel which I highly recommend, this is the sort of novel that makes history interesting.

I was sorry to reach the last page because I wanted more! 

Additional Info : This novel would make an excellent choice for Book Club Groups as not only is there so much material to discuss but included are excellent notes and an interview with Priya Parmar to guide such discussion.

Please take the minute and half needed to watch this video, it gives nothing away, in fact I think it will tempt you even more to read Exit The Actress.

Courtesy of noahsher1

Priya Parmar

Priya Parmar

Born in Hawaii but currently living in London, researching her next novel which is set in the first World War. She is a former dramaturge, ( a professional position within a theatre company that deals mainly with research and development of plays) and freelance editor with degrees in literature and theatre and is currently studying for a doctorate with the University of Edinburgh.

Exit The Actress - Facebook Page

Priya Parmar Official Website

The Plumbean Project - Priya's Blog

I have included links to all the websites which I used for my research, either with reference to the author or about Nell Gwynn.

Nell Gwynn - Wikipedia


  1. That looks like such a fascinating book, Linda! :-) I will keep my eye open for it at the library. :-)

  2. Oooo, this sounds very good! I love historical fiction, especially about England pre 1700s. And I also love books written in letter, diary, etc form. I'm itching to get my hands on this one. My local library has a copy on the shelf. I'm going to call them now and have them hold it for me! Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I have read almost all of Philippa Gregory's books, so I will probably love this! Thanks so much for a fantastic review. I will definitely read this because I loved studying Restoration Comedies in school :D

    I will be adding this to my Barnes & Noble wish list momentarily.
    Thanks again!

    ~Ricki Jill

  4. I was sure you would like the novel as much as I did!
    As usual, awesome and very complete review. Thanks.

  5. Linda, thank you for the utterly lovely review. I am so thrilled you enjoyed the book!

  6. I love this book! Wonderful review!

  7. Another one to add to my TBR List..:)

  8. Rambling Tart@ Do let me know what you think once you have read it.

    Pam@ Pam I am so pleased that you like the sound of this one.

    Patricia@ Thanks hope I have tempted you.

    Ricki@ Welcome as a new follower and thanks for taking the time to comment. I can almost guarantee you will love this if you enjoy Philippa Gregory's novels

    BookQuoter@ I savoured it!

    Priya@ I enjoyed it so much I was quite upset when I realised it was the end!

    Misha@ Thanks like you I loved it.

    Jyoti@ Definitely worthwhile adding to that TBR list.

  9. Great review! This sounds very interesting.

  10. This sounds like a fantastic novel - and fascinating subject. Great review, Lindy.

  11. So many good reviews for this book!Moving it from TBR to get ASAP shelf..Thanks for the lovely review!

  12. Sounds like a really fascinating book Lindy. Great review.

  13. Julie@ If you are a fan of Historical fiction I really recommend it highly.

    Talli@ It is, well worth reading if you have time with all your own writing to do.

    Bhargavi@ Yes I have not seen a bad one yet fortunately. I think it would be hard to not like it!

    Vibha@ Thanks, it is really fascinating.

  14. I love it that when you got to the end you wanted more. To me, that's the very best recommendation of all!! This sounds great, LindyLou!


  15. Steve@ Welcome to my blog and thankyou for your kind words, much appreciated, hope to see you here again.

    Sarah@ I thought of you when I mentioned it being a good choice for Book Clubs!

  16. Another interesting book review, Lindy! This is a good recommendation! :)

  17. Len@ Thankyou, I hope it is on your TBR list.

  18. Ff you like me@ I deleted your list of links as I consider it as spam advertising, certainly not relevant to this review.

  19. I am unfamiliar with this period of history, and feel like I need to read up on it! I'll keep an eye out for this book.xx

  20. Wendy Sice@ It is worth looking out for an would be a fun way to learn a little about the period. It is great to have you here, thanks.

    Ricki Jill@ It was a pleasure to do so and I have already made a note for next month, although I hope we will have contact again before then.

  21. Oh, I think I would LOVE this one! I've read a number of Philippa Gregory's books, and this seems to have a similar style. I've jotted down the title and am adding it to my list!

  22. Leanne@ The impeccable research for the book is a similarity to PG but the style of the diary format is very different. Do let me know what you think when you have read it.

  23. Sounds like a great book. I'm sure Nell Gwynn makes a fascinating character.

  24. carolsnotebook@ She does and Priya's portrayal of her is excellent.

  25. Very nice review! You are very articulate! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  26. Joann@ Thankyou for coming over to take a look at the review, I do hope you are intrigued enough to want to read this for your challenge.

  27. Late commenting on this one.
    I am excited for this book and to 'see' Nell Gwynn come to life. We have Nell and Charles II history in my home town.

    I have a copy , that I won, on it's way to me :)


  28. Dizzy C@ I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, will look out for your review with interest.


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