Set against the sumptuousness and intrigues of Queen Elizabeth I’s 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 Ann’s 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 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.’ Donne’s 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. . . . Donne’s poetry appears throughout the narrative, but there is nothing metaphysical about the couple’s 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, that’s 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 Haran’s The Lady and the Poet is unmatched in recent historical fiction. Here is Queen Elizabeth I’s world brought richly to life.” —Carolly Erickson, New York Times bestselling author of The Tsarina’s Daughter
“John Donne and Ann More would be pleased: Maeve Haran has written the tale of their scandalous romance with nothing less than a poet’s 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 Donne’s Marriage Letters in the Folger Shakespeare Library
“In the glamorous, backstabbing world of Queen Elizabeth’s 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.” —Reader’s Digest (UK)