by Virginia Henley

December 2003
ISBN: 0-451-21064-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Elizabeth Gunning’s mother is the 1700s equivalent of a stage mother. She has pushed Elizabeth and her sister Maria’s interest into a possible career and new life from the impoverished Irish family.

Feeling that they must have an inroads into stage performance, she enlists her friend Peg Wolffington to help the girls become actresses. Soon, the girls have a fictitious identity. As nobility, many doors are opened for the young women and soon they find themselves gracing the stages.

Elizabeth’s path in life is radically changed when she meets John Campbell, the future Duke of Argyll. As they become closer, she finds herself attracted to the Duke of Hamilton as well. Elizabeth is soon in a dangerous tug of war for the affections of two very different Dukes who are sworn enemies. And one holds her secret in his hands. Can she choose?

In Virginia Henley style, Undone, is the story of a woman’s journey through life and her loves. Elizabeth is definitely the main character, yet this reader felt distanced from the character. Told as more of a saga, the life of Elizabeth is intertwined with John, though their relationship is far from constant and solid.

The reader watches Elizabeth grow from a child firmly under her mother’s control, to a self-possessed woman. The supporting cast is rich and varied, but this reader was disappointed that John was not a constant in Elizabeth’s life. While Undone was a satisfying read, the ebb and flow of the romance left me slightly disappointed. Still, this novelization of this actress was an interesting and engrossing read.

Reviewed in April 2004 by Bree.

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