Mary Anne, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


In Regency London, the only way for a woman to succeed is to beat men at their own game. So when Mary Anne Clarke seeks an escape from her squalid surroundings in Bowling Inn Alley, she ventures first into the scurrilous world of the pamphleteers. Her personal charms are such, however, that before long she comes to the notice of the Duke of York.

With her taste for luxury and power, Mary Anne, now a royal mistress, must aim higher. Her lofty connections allow her to establish a thriving trade in military commissions, provoking a scandal that rocks the government - and brings personal disgrace.

A vivid portrait of overweening ambition, MARY ANNE is set during the Napoleonic Wars and based on du Maurier's own great-great-grandmother.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781844080885

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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

I noticed this book had never been reviewed which I think is a tradgedy as it's a fantastic book about an amazing woman (apparently based on Du Mauriers great grand mother). It's a historic fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars which explores the relationships between men and women and tells the story of one womans (Mary Anne's) high aspirations. Definately worth a read!

Review by

A strange novel,the story told in a rather hurried, precied way, perhaps echoing the impatience of Mary Anne herself, who kept herself and her family by entertaining lovers and brokering promotions.Du Maurier appeared to have researched deeply her great-great-grandmother's life, especially the way she made and frittered money. But I didn't feel she showed exactly why her relative captivated practically every man who crossed her path.

Review by

Can't quite decide between 3 & 4 stars. This tells the tale of Du Maurier's great great grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke, who was mistress to the Duke of York. She was then pivotal in the investigation into the sale of commissions that took place in the House of Commons. A novelised biography, the first sections chart her upbringing in London poverty, then her hasty marriage and subsequent struggles with a lacklustre drunk of a husband. This wasnlt the life she wanted when she was in poveryt, and so her ambition rises still further. She eventually leaves him and finds her way to be mistress of the Duke of York. And here, she does actually seem to be happy, although there are perenial money problems, which is, in part, leads her into the murky issue of selling commisions. She takes a sum of money to put a name forward for a comission or exchange within the armed forces, of which the Duke is Commander in Chief. It is illegal, but it's not exactly unusual at this time in history. It all then starts to go down hill after she ceases her relationship with the Duke. There are the debts, the inability to maintain the standard of living to which she'd become accustomed. This all leads her into increasingly desparate ways of extracting money from old acquaintances, including the writing of defamatory pamphlets. This ends with a court case and the ultimate downfall. It's an interesting sotry, although the sections leading up to her period as mistress are more interesting, surprising and enjoyable to read than the book thereafter. The fall is, in part, due to her own inability to compromise and moderate herself. She thinks she has been hard done by, and never blames herself for a single part of what happens to her. But she never makes any attempt to plan for the future - she always lives for the day. This has its consequences.

Review by

Knowing that the story was based on du Maurier's grandmother's life made it interesting, but if I hadn't known that, I think I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. It was as if her usual fluid story-telling became bogged down by the facts, but it is an amazing story to have in one's family history.

Review by

My first Daphne du Maurier book, and I did experience some trouble getting trough it. But I loved the story and how it evolved.

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