Sarah Ferguson’s first bodice-ripper has crept onto the bestseller charts – despite critics branding it a ‘boring slog’ with no sex.
The Duchess of York’s Her Heart For A Compass, based loosely on the life of her ancestor Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, received mostly negative reviews in the press after hitting the shelves earlier this month.
Critics branded the book ‘boring’ and a ‘slog’ with an ‘insipid’ main character and a tone that jumps between ‘archaic and contemporary’. Almost all commented on the lack of sex and said it was at the ‘PG end’ of Mills & Boon.
However according to The Guardian, Her Heart for a Compass sold just over 1,000 copies sold in the last week, putting it in 10th place in the hardback fiction chart.
Sarah Ferguson’s first bodice-ripper has crept onto the bestseller charts – despite critics branding it a ‘boring slog’ with no sex
Fergie said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the news, saying: ‘It really is a dream come true and I’d like to thank everyone who has been buying the book so far.
‘I hope they are enjoying the exploits of my headstrong, redheaded heroine Lady Margaret and are spotting the parallels between my own life and hers.’
It comes after Sarah defended the work when it was slated by critics, saying she and co-author Margarete Kaye, who has written more than 60 books, remain ‘unified’ behind the book.
Talking on Radio 4’s Front Row, the Duke of York’s ex-wife said: ‘People try to put Fergie into a box, or Sarah or the Duchess into a box, saying “look at her, why is she doing this, why is she doing that?”
The Duchess of York’s Her Heart For A Compass (pictured), based loosely on the life of her ancestor Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, received mostly negative reviews in the press after hitting the shelves on Tuesday
‘We all have self-doubt. But it was really exciting to grow together in friendship and collaboration and we’re both very unified together in this book Her Heart For A Compass. So much so, we’ve signed our next book deal.’
Sarah, mother to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, said the Covid-19 pandemic gave her the opportunity to write the book, which she claims to have been thinking about for more than 15 years.
She told the show’s host Nick Ahad: ‘The pandemic also tapped me on the shoulder and said are you going to waste your life and never do what you want to do?
‘Are you going to be in the front line helping people, nurses, NHS workers? I believe Lady Margaret would have done that, she would have risen to the challenge.’
Critics branded the book ‘boring’ and a ‘slog’ with an ‘insipid’ main character and a tone that jumps between ‘archaic and contemporary’. Almost all commented on the lack of sex and said it was at the ‘PG end’ of Mills & Boon. Pictured, Sarah
Adding: ‘I wondered whether it’s time to give me my own voice, and I wonder if Lady Margaret is helping me do that? I think she is.’
The duchess spoke again about the parallels between her red-headed heroine and her own life, including how they both find freedom in America.
‘I believe that any good storyteller includes journeys that parallel their own life,’ she said. ‘It’s really a total work of fiction. On the other hand, it’s rather like Who Do You Think You Are?, the TV show. Telling my ancestry of my grandmothers, my maternal and paternal grandparents.’
The 500-page tome also draws on the duchess’s own relationship with the press, as Lady Margaret, who is banished from polite society after fleeing an arranged marriage, first becomes the darling and then the target of the Victorian-era press.
Opening up about the impact British newspaper headlines had on her mental health, she said: ‘When you have had lines that say ’82 per cent would rather sleep with a goat than Fergie’ it’s very demoralising.
‘Also, what about the Duchess of Pork? That was a good one. It took me 10 years of real mental problems to get over the fact he thought I was fat.’
Sarah said she finally met the man who had come up with the derisive moniker at a newspaper event. Describing the experience, she said: ‘He was the cause of my demise into a big problem with food. And yet, he didn’t mean it, it was all just to sell papers.’
She added: ‘When I was lucky enough to get a job in America, I got off the airplane and it was really fascinating. The scrutiny wasn’t there really. They really accepted me as me.
‘I think that’s why I’m so excited about Lady Margaret going to America, because she certainly felt the same thing.’
The duchess has been vocal about her desire for the book to be adapted for the screen, although did not say whether there are any plans to do so.
Instead, she spoke about her project with Manchester-born director Mark Gill to create a screenplay based on the life of Princess Louise, the mother of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
Asked what she thought of The Crown and if she had spoken with anyone from the royal family about the Netflix TV series, she said she enjoyed the ‘cinematography’, but added: ‘I’d love to remind you that I am divorced from the royal family, and I’m a happily divorced woman.
‘I’d never presume to discuss anything like that with them all,’ before continuing: ‘I know that Diana would be so proud of her sons and their wives and what they have achieved.’
Fergie’s first bodice-ripper leaves critics turned off! Her Heart for a Compass is branded a ‘boring slog’ with no sex
Sarah Ferguson’s hotly anticipated debut Mills & Boon novel finally hits the shelves on Tuesday.
But any readers hoping for a heaving bodice-ripper will be left disappointed, according to critics, who have been left turned off by the ‘interminable doorstopper’.
Her Heart For A Compass (Mills & Boon) is a 540-page Victorian melodrama set over an 11-year period featuring the life and loves of one Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, who bears more than a passing similarity to her flame-haired creator.
Teenage Lady Margaret evokes the ire of her parents – the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, close friends of Queen Victoria – by rejecting the suitor they chose for her, Lord Rufus Ponsonby, the Earl of Killin, resulting in her being banished from polite society. She then falls madly in love with a priest and, later, an older diplomat – an acquaintance of her father’s – before making a career for herself as a writer.
Reviews have branded the book ‘boring’ and a ‘slog’ with an ‘insipid’ main character and a tone that jumps between ‘archaic and contemporary’. Almost all commented on the lack of sex and said it was at the ‘PG end’ of Mills & Boon.
Here, FEMAIL reveals what Britain’s reviewers had to say…
The Daily Telegraph: ‘The couple of hours it took to slog through it still felt interminable’
‘Nothing really happens – a lot’: The Daily Telegraph’s Hannah Betts said the book was a slog
The Times: ‘It is very silly but would be enjoyable if the novel were more fun’
The PG end of the Mills & Boon spectrum: The Times’ Sarah Ditum warns about the lack of sex
Evening Standard: ‘It’s tosh, of course, but amiable tosh’
Outisder looking in: Melanie McDonagh feels like Fergie doesn’t use her insider knowledge
Guardian: ‘Bridgerton this is not’
Redeemable features: The Guardian’s Alison Flood praises the historical research
i: ‘This book cackles with female energy and a whisper of Georgette Heyer’
Perfect holiday read: The i’s Kat Brown says it’s the ideal book to bring on holiday