Sarah Ferguson book review round-up: What the critics are saying about Duchess of York’s Mills & Boon novel

Readers hoping for ‘sexy shenanigans’ may be left ‘disappointed’

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 03 August 2021 09:01
Sarah Ferguson on Oprah

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has released her debut Mills & Boon novel – but is it worth reading?

The critics have cast their verdict on the romantic fiction book, titled Her Heart for a Compass, which follows the love story of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglass Scott.

Ferguson’s book has been described by publisher Mills & Boon as an “immersive historical saga” that “sweeps the reader from the drawing rooms of Victoria’s court and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland, to the slums of London and the mercantile bustle of 1870s New York”.

The reviews are in – and it seems the 61-year-old’s foray into fiction writing, co-authored by Marguerite Kaye, has proved divisive.

Alison Flood, writing for The Guardian, acknowledged that, while “the novel veers around somewhat in tone”, it’s “nonetheless well-researched, and a glimpse into the strictures of life as a pampered, rich, upper-class woman.”

However, Flood adds that “readers hoping for the sexy shenanigans usually found in the publisher’s output will be disappointed”.

In a more negative review, The Telegraph’s Hannah Betts said “nothing really happens” in the novel, branding the 500-word novel “interminable”.

“It’s not entirely clear who the book is for,” Betts wrote, stating: “Romantics will be unimpressed by a total of three-ish snogs.”

Evening Standard’s review, written by Melanie McDonagh, calls the book “amiable tosh” featuring language that feels like a “parody of genteel Victorian”.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York’s Mills & Boon debut divides critics

“What’s baffling is that, for someone who presumably knows her way around the aristocracy, our author sounds so very much like an outsider with her nose pressed against the glass, who doesn’t know how grandees actually talk, but tries to make up for it by the lavish use of titles and refined diction,” McDonagh said, adding: “There’s a pinkie held aloft in every sentence.”

In The Independent’s monthly book release round-up, Martin Chilton said he would “rather read 400 Ikea wardrobe instruction manuals than 400 pages of Fergie’s ‘romantic’ musings”.

Check back here shortly for The Independent’s verdict on the novel.

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