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The Lady and the Poet

by Maeve Haran


Young Ann More is the family rebel of the Mores of Loseley House in Surrey.  Her grandfather has encouraged all the girls in the family to read and write in classical languages as well as English, but only Ann has a talent and a passion for learning.  Her headstrong nature makes it impossible for her to become a court lady, but she still stays with her aunt in London—where she meets with John Donne.  He is in every respect an unsuitable man for her, being of humble and Catholic background, flirtatious and attracting a whiff of delicious scandal. Her family will never give them consent to wed.   Still, Ann burns for him; but does he return her love?

This is a story of forbidden love, but if you are hoping for heaving bosoms and tossing sheets, then you had better look elsewhere.  Instead, this chaste romance has an air of realism about it (dealing as it does with real people), and so pleasures of a rather different type are given instead.  These include Ann telling her story in her own words, and an almost tangible description of life in Elizabethan times.  Ms Haran brings to life a country manor house, Queen Elizabeth’s seething court, and the life of a young woman of good but not great birth.  Due to having a narrator, this story is told in something approaching what computer gamers would term "real time," and so there are periods of repetition and when nothing much seems to be happening.  I felt that it could stand some editing, but it was well worth reading for the descriptions of life in the 1590s and for bringing Donne’s poems (several of which are given) to life. Think of the romance in here as being of the smoldering type rather than the flames of passion, and you will find that there is quite a bit to enjoy.

The Book

Pan (Macmillan UK)
3 April 2009
0330462466 / 9780330462464
Historical Romance / 1590s London and environs
More at US || UK
NOTE: US edition is different

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2009
© 2009