The best books about mistresses

1 authors have picked their favorite books about mistresses and why they recommend each book.

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The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philippa Gregory,

Book cover of The Other Boleyn Girl

This book, for me, is where my interest in history really began. To say I loved history at school would be a lie; it was often drab, political, and really quite dry (sorry teachers). But there were always snippets of history lessons that grabbed my attention – the Vikings, the Great Fire of London, and of course Henry VIII and his six wives. Which of us doesn’t leave school aware that there was a king who had six wives and beheaded two of them, even if we can’t remember which two! The Tudors was the one thing that did grab my interest and I did remember all the wives; in fact, I was fascinated by Anne Boleyn and as a young adult buying historical fiction, Anne was the subject of many of the books I read. 

And then Gregory wrote her book on The Other Boleyn. Anne had a…


Who am I?

I am a writer on the lives of women during the Plantagenet and Tudor periods. I have been fascinated by history since childhood, when the death of my mother when I was six years old encouraged a need in me as I grew up to look backward, for memories and glimpses of the past. When I came across queen Elizabeth Woodville she piqued my interest, and her life story has remained with me ever since. This passion for her life and the era led to my first book on her sisters (The Queen’s Sisters) and was followed up by a second book on her daughters entitled The York Princesses.


I wrote...

The York Princesses: The Daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

By Sarah J. Hodder,

Book cover of The York Princesses: The Daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

What is my book about?

As a collective, the lives of the Princesses of York span seven decades and the rule of five different Kings. The daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, their young years were blighted by tragedy. With their own futures uncertain during the reign of their uncle, Richard III, the girls had to navigate their way through the tumultuous years of the 1480s before having to adjust to a new King and a new dynasty in the shape of Henry VII. 

The stories of the York Princesses are entwined into the fabric of the history of England, as they grew up, survived, and even thrived in the new Tudor age. Their lives are played out against a backdrop of coronations and jousts, births and deaths, marriages and divorces, and loyalties and broken allegiances.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

By Milan Kundera,

Book cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Most people would probably not think of The Unbearable Lightness of Being as being a coming-of-age novel. Coming-of-age novels often center around younger characters dealing with first crushes, forming an identity, finding a self, separate from family—The Unbearable Lightness of Being is none of that. Instead, I think of it as about a second “coming of age.” This “coming of age” deals with recreating an identity after you do not recognize what your life has become. I find it’s one of those books with something for everyone, though I find myself recommending it the most to college students or those feeling a little lost post-college. Love, the struggle with modernity, the meaning of life—you name it, chances are, Kundera has covered it. For this reason, this is probably my all-time most recommended book.


Who am I?

I have always been interested in people—specifically exploring what makes us human from different angles and often different disciplines. Overtime, this has taken the shape of writing novels, studying biological anthropology, psychology, and medicine, and sometimes even just people watching. My novels have explored topics such as nonsuicidal self-injury, the pains of growing up, and growing up multicultural. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology.


I wrote...

The Seventh Miss Hatfield

By Anna Caltabiano,

Book cover of The Seventh Miss Hatfield

What is my book about?

11-year-old Cynthia knows she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbor Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat, Cynthia wasn't entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything. Miss Hatfield is immortal. Thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Cynthia is as well. Cynthia is beginning to suddenly grow up and take on the aspects of her neighbor. She's becoming the next Miss Hatfield. Cynthia must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture that might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. The Seventh Miss Hatfield is a story of the sudden loss of one’s childhood and the painful creation of a new adult identity.

Käthe-Kollwitz-Sammlung der Kreissparkasse Köln

By Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Jutta Bohnke, Gunther Thiem

Book cover of Käthe-Kollwitz-Sammlung der Kreissparkasse Köln: Katalog Der Handzeichnungen (The Kollwitz Collection of the Kreissparkasse, Cologne)

This is an exceptional book on Kollwitz’s drawings with outstanding reproductions of rarely seen works. I find Kollwitz’s humanity deeply moving. As an Expressionist, she champions the plight of the poor and oppressed, especially women and children. Working in the mediums of sculpture and drawing, Kollwitz is a master, or rather a mistress of the human form. A sculptor myself, I appreciate the depth of form in her figure drawing and her use of broad strokes to define planes.  


Who am I?

A practising artist for more than 60 years, my main source of inspiration is people and the natural world. I work in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Drawing is the foundation of my art and I always keep a sketchbook handy. As a left-hander in a right-handed world, drawing became my main means of expression from an early age, when I instinctively wrote back-to-front with my left hand but was made to use my right. In addition to my art practice, I have taught drawing and developed a teaching method based on 7 principles that are outlined in Draw Like da Vinci.  


I wrote...

Draw Like Da Vinci

By Susan Dorothea White,

Book cover of Draw Like Da Vinci

What is my book about?

Leonardo da Vinci's drawings are among the most magnificent ever created. But how did he achieve his effects? Choose his materials? Define his approach? Susan Dorothea White, an internationally known artist and teacher, helps students gain an invaluable understanding of Da Vinci's techniques for depicting the human form and dealing with perspective, line weight, light, shade, and character.

The basic principles of drawing are explained through Leonardo's art. White analyses the fundamentals into seven Ps of drawing – Perspective, Proportion, Perception, Position, Placement, Planes, Priority. Illustrated with drawings by Leonardo and over 100 of her drawings, the book contains exercises on different techniques, including goldpoint and chalk on emery paper. Being a left-hander helped White decipher Leonardo's technique.

Little Secrets

By Jennifer Hillier,

Book cover of Little Secrets

Little Secrets is both brilliantly written and terrifying, making it one of my all-time favorite psychological thrillers. Eighteen months after Marin’s young son, Sebastian, was kidnapped as she shopped with him at a crowded Seattle market, both Marin and her marriage are hanging on by a thread. Desperate for answers, she hires a PI to help locate additional clues as to what happened to her son. As the secrets begin unraveling, the twists reveal themselves. Jennifer Hillier’s clean writing style and relatable characters drew me in, but the high tension and off-the-charts creep-factor kept me tearing through the pages all the way until the shocking ending.


Who am I?

My fascination with things that go bump in the night probably stems from having read too many scary books in my younger years, when I devoured anything that made me want to hide under the blankets. My love of reading followed me into college, where I earned a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and later a law degree from DePaul University in Chicago. My passion for reading—and, later, writingpsychological thrillers remained. Today, I write full-time and have five psychological thriller and suspense novels published with Bookouture–Hachette UK, including several that have made it into the Top 100 Books in the Amazon US, UK, and AU Kindle stores!  


I wrote...

The Girl Before Me

By Laura Wolfe,

Book cover of The Girl Before Me

What is my book about?

I switched on the bedroom light, casting a glow across the apartment. No one was there. I thought I’d locked both locks on my door, but now one was open… When I moved into the apartment with my daughter Lily, it was meant to be a new beginning. But just as we settle into our new lives, a letter arrives for someone called Annie, warning her to get out. The neighbors say Annie was the woman who lived here before me, who moved out one night without a word. Now, I can’t escape the idea that someone is watching us. I can’t help but think something bad happened to Annie. And Lily and I are not nearly as safe here as I thought we were.

Beloved Emma

By Flora Fraser,

Book cover of Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton

Flora Fraser, daughter of Lady Antonia, crafted this more sedate biography a few decades ago but it has stood the test of time. There’s less scandal driving the narrative as the author is more measured and allows the material, which is fascinating enough, to speak for itself without improper or unnecessary embellishment. This makes it rather old-school, which I think is also nice, and the author conjures up a rather sympathetic version of Emma, seeing her as loyal and loving, and managing to free her from some of the tawdriness that some other accounts use to grab the reader’s attention.


Who am I?

I consider myself a historian. It isn’t a job title or a career, more of a passion. The object of my passion is the period following the French revolution. When the world, for all its art and elegance, was convulsed by conflict and Napoleon. I shy from the big sweep of events, preferring to tell stories through the words of those who were there. My interest in Nelson and Lady Hamilton grew from my research on the Neapolitan revolution of 1799 and I was shocked to discover that, in addition to their love story, there was a chilling crime disguised and buried beneath their famous romance.


I wrote...

Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

By Jonathan North,

Book cover of Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

What is my book about?

In 1799 a republic was established in Naples. It lasted six months before an avenging army under Cardinal Ruffo was laying siege to the survivors in the castles of Naples. That June they agreed to surrender when Ruffo promised them safe passage to France. Nelson, accompanied by his fleet and Lady Hamilton, then arrived and objected to the treaty, but then pretended to agree so that, as the republicans evacuated their forts, they could be seized. Hundreds were executed by the merciless royalists.

This book examines the events leading up to Nelson’s war crime and, making use of accounts by Cardinal Ruffo, Lady Hamilton, and Nelson himself, as well as by many others caught up in the drama, tells the story of this neglected atrocity.

The Life and Letters of Emma Hamilton

By Hugh Tours,

Book cover of The Life and Letters of Emma Hamilton: The Story of Admiral Nelson and the Most Famous Woman of the Georgian Age

The biography by Hugh Tours is also rather scholarly (I suspect the author is of a legalistic bent) and he sets out with the intention of being scrupulously fair. That is rewarding as is the fact that when the author doesn’t know something, or is supposing something happened, he generally says so. This is nice and balanced and makes the book a great entry point into Emma’s world. It is also reasonably short, which helps the book in its role as a useful primer as does the old-school structure of beginning in the beginning and moving on from there. Don’t expect great wit or sharp prose, though, there are better books for that.


Who am I?

I consider myself a historian. It isn’t a job title or a career, more of a passion. The object of my passion is the period following the French revolution. When the world, for all its art and elegance, was convulsed by conflict and Napoleon. I shy from the big sweep of events, preferring to tell stories through the words of those who were there. My interest in Nelson and Lady Hamilton grew from my research on the Neapolitan revolution of 1799 and I was shocked to discover that, in addition to their love story, there was a chilling crime disguised and buried beneath their famous romance.


I wrote...

Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

By Jonathan North,

Book cover of Nelson at Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

What is my book about?

In 1799 a republic was established in Naples. It lasted six months before an avenging army under Cardinal Ruffo was laying siege to the survivors in the castles of Naples. That June they agreed to surrender when Ruffo promised them safe passage to France. Nelson, accompanied by his fleet and Lady Hamilton, then arrived and objected to the treaty, but then pretended to agree so that, as the republicans evacuated their forts, they could be seized. Hundreds were executed by the merciless royalists.

This book examines the events leading up to Nelson’s war crime and, making use of accounts by Cardinal Ruffo, Lady Hamilton, and Nelson himself, as well as by many others caught up in the drama, tells the story of this neglected atrocity.

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