Synopses & Reviews
Set against the sumptuousness and intrigues of Queen Elizabeth Is court, this powerful novel reveals the untold love affair between the famous poet John Donne and Ann More, the passionate woman who, against all odds, became his wife.
Ann More, fiery and spirited daughter of the Mores of Loseley House in Surrey, came to London destined for a life at the court of Queen Elizabeth and an advantageous marriage. There she encountered John Donne, the darkly attractive young poet who was secretary to her uncle, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He was unlike any man she had ever met—angry, clever, witty, and in her eyes, insufferably arrogant and careless of women. Yet as they were thrown together, Donne opened Anns eyes to a new world of passion and sensuality. However, John Donne—Catholic by background in an age when it was deadly dangerous, tainted by an alluring hint of scandal—was the kind of man her status-conscious father distrusted and despised.
The Lady and the Poet tells the story of the forbidden love between one of our most admired poets and a girl who dared to rebel against her family and the conventions of her time. They gave up everything to be together, and their love knew no bounds.
"Haran makes her historical fiction debut with an excellent account of these star-crossed lovers. Not only are the historical details well presented but the love story that unfolds is exciting and beautiful. Filled with excerpts of Donne's poetry, this love story is not to be missed.”—Library Journal
“Haran has fashioned a fascinating novel around the scandalous love story of the poet John Donne and the young noblewoman Ann More. The novel, rich in period detail, unfolds in the final years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. . . . The fictional Ann, who narrates the story, is an unusually mature, spirited girl of 14 when she meets Donne, nearly twice her age, known for his clever, erotic verses. . . . Haran imagines a passionate, tempestuous courtship with clandestine meetings, secret letters, go-betweens, and many obstacles and setbacks. Some setbacks are a matter of record. Donne, thrown into prison for secretly marrying Ann, summed up their situation in a note to his new wife: ‘John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone. Donnes love poetry, as thrilling now as it was in his day, is quoted throughout the novel.”—Boston Globe
“The unlikely yet enduring love between Jacobean poet John Donne and Ann More inspires British writer Haran for her first historical novel. . . . Donnes poetry appears throughout the narrative, but there is nothing metaphysical about the couples passion. Haran shows the challenges of being a woman at the turn of the 17th century, doing a creditable job of bringing history to life by creating a portrait of the renowned poet and a matching fictional portrait of the woman whom, according to history and literature, he deeply loved.”—Publishers Weekly
“The bed unmade, the wedding guests uninvited, my own manuscript neglected, I bury myself in the delicious delight of this novel . . . each chapter is more enticing than the one before. And should you want enlightenment to light delight, why, thats here too: deep, enriching lessons on the nature of love.” —Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times bestselling author of Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette and Adam & Eve (forthcoming)
“Rich in historical detail and full of vibrant, vivid characters . . . irresistible . . . Fans of evocative, romantic historical fiction will want to savor every word.” —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of True Colors
“For authenticity of time and place, Maeve Harans The Lady and the Poet is unmatched in recent historical fiction. Here is Queen Elizabeth Is world brought richly to life.” —Carolly Erickson, New York Times bestselling author of The Tsarinas Daughter
“John Donne and Ann More would be pleased: Maeve Haran has written the tale of their scandalous romance with nothing less than a poets ear and heart. Her characters are alive, vivid, and unforgettable. A must-read!” —Jeanne Kalogridis, author of The Borgia Bride
“A remarkable imaginative portrait.” —Dennis Flynn, distinguished Donne scholar, past president of the John Donne Society and editor of John Donnes Marriage Letters in the Folger Shakespeare Library
“In the glamorous, backstabbing world of Queen Elizabeths court, arrogant poet and spirited lady fall madly in love . . . This is history as pure entertainment, an inventive and delicious feast of passion, wit and intrigue.”—The Times (UK)
“With its fascinating insight into Tudor life, this will absorb you to the end.”—She magazine (UK) (4 stars out of 5)
“Everyone from the Queen herself to the elusive, sexy figure of Donne come wonderfully to life.” —Readers Digest (UK)
About the Author
Maeve Haran is an Oxford law graduate and former television producer who has written nine contemporary novels that have sold around the world. She lives with her family in north London.
Reading Group Guide
1. To modern readers, John Donne seems an impressive marriage partner: a public servant who was also a poet and went on to become Dean of St Pauls Cathedral. Why did their marriage cause such a scandal at the time?
2. John Donne is supposed to have said the famous line: “John Donne, Ann Donne, Undone.” Why might he have said that? Was he right?
3. Was Sir George More the villain of the piece or just a normal sixteenth-century aristocratic father?
4. Some people argue that it was Donnes sense of exclusion due to his Catholicism and relatively humble social background that gave his poetry its distinctive power. Are there reasons why exclusion might benefit an artist more than social success?
5. How was Ann different from most women of her era? Take a moment to talk about sexual equality and the obstacles that faced women during this time. How did they exert their power?
6. Who was your favorite character in the book and why? (One of Maeves was Anns grandmother. There is a marvelously stern portrait of her at Loseley Park, Anns family home.)
7. To what extent do you think the author took artistic liberties with this novel? Do you think her work was made easier or harder given that no portrait of or letters from Ann survive?
8. Why do you think theres so little public trace of women in earlier periods?
9. What makes a truly involving historical novel and why do we enjoy them? Do they add to or cloud our picture of the past?