Thursday, 25 July 2019

#BookReview A Right Royal Face-Off @simonjedge @EyeAndLightning #BlogTour @rararesources #Win #Giveaway #20BooksOfSummer

A Right Royal Face-off   

Written by Simon Edge


Published by Lightning Books (25th Jul 2019)
Genre Historical Literary Comedy 
Pages 288
Format Paperback

Firstly, I would like to thank Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to join this blog tour for A Right Royal Face-off, and to author Simon Edge for a free paperback copy of his book to review.

For readers living in the UK, there is a raffle at the bottom of this blog post to win one of five paperback copies of this very funny story.

And why not follow the tour with these bloggers, where you'll not only find reviews, but extracts, interviews and guest posts from Simon Edge as well?

The blurb:

A Right Royal Face-Off

It is 1777, and England’s second-greatest portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, has a thriving practice a stone’s thrown from London’s royal palaces, while the press talks up his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the pedantic theoretician who is the top dog of British portraiture.

Fonder of the low life than high society, Gainsborough loathes pandering to grand sitters, but he changes his tune when he is commissioned to paint King George III and his large family. In their final, most bitter competition, who will be chosen as court painter, Tom or Sir Joshua?

Meanwhile, two and a half centuries later, a badly damaged painting turns up on a downmarket antiques TV show being filmed in Suffolk. Could the monstrosity really be, as its eccentric owner claims, a Gainsborough? If so, who is the sitter? And why does he have donkey’s ears?

Mixing ancient and modern as he did in his acclaimed debut The Hopkins Conundrum, Simon Edge takes aim at fakery and pretension in this highly original celebration of one of our greatest artists.

My thoughts:

Written in the third person, A Right Royal Face-off  has a duel time line, switching between the 18th Century and present day. It is told from the viewpoint of three main characters - two are active participants, and the third is an observer. 

The story begins in 1777, with the first main character, Thomas Gainsborough, painting the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland in his studio. We learn a little about his life and work, and also that there is animosity between himself and Sir Joshua Reynolds, fellow artist, and President of the Royal Academy of Art.

Still in 1777, the next chapter introduces David, a young footman in Gainsborough's employ, newly arrived from the country, who is privy to the goings-on in Gainsborough's house. He relates this, and comments on aspects of his life as a servant, the people he serves, their guests, London, and his master's work - as he understands it - in informative letters to his mother back in Suffolk.  

Jumping to the present day, in Chapter Three, we meet Gemma. She is working on a new TV show called Britain's Got Treasures, and is the producer's assistant. She has been tasked with finding items, brought along by unsuspecting members of the public, which the 'experts' can ridicule on the show for entertainment. At the end of a long morning, she strikes gold when she is presented by Muriel Mudge with a defaced and vandalised painting, which has been hideously repaired.

At this point, my interest was piqued. Who was the subject of the painting and why was it in such a condition? And Muriel Mudge - love her name - is she going to be made to look foolish or will she turn the tables on those who would ridicule her?

I very much enjoyed this well-written, and cleverly told story. In particular, I loved the telling of the day Gainsborough brought home three piglets to paint, and expected them to hold a pose for him! The real and fictional characters sit comfortably together, and are brought to life in this comical and entertaining story. There are lots of factual snippets weaved into the narrative, about Gainsborough's contemporaries, how Sir Joshua Reynolds became the Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King over Gainsborough, and the rivalry between the two artists which I found interesting, and then researched a little more on my own. 

Purchase from:

Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) by entering this code at checkout – BLOGTOURFACE

Author Bio –

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years.

He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London. His first novel, The Hopkins Conundrum, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. He lives in Suffolk.

Read more about Simon and his work at

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @simonjedge

Instagram: @simonjedge

Giveaway – Win Win 5 x PB copies of A Right Royal Face-Off (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions - UK entries welcome. 

Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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