Former Royal Family Member Launches New Literary Pursuit

Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, teamed up with publisher Mills & Boon to launch a historical romance book club, following the release of her own contribution to the genre, Her Heart for a Compass, in August. The Duchess of York, 62, announced the new project on Twitter Friday, noting how "passionate" she is about sharing women's stories and promoting women's literature. The book club will start on Nov. 5, and she will announce new titles for the club on her social media platforms.

"I am so excited to launch a historical romance book club with my publisher Mills & Boon," Ferguson said in a statement, reports the Daily Mail. "Like them, I'm passionate about telling women's stories, giving those who have been silenced a voice, and promoting women's literature. Too often, women's lives can be overlooked by history. In my debut novel Her Heart For A Compass, I brought one such woman - my great-great-aunt Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas-Scott - to life." Ferguson hopes to "celebrate other authors" who focus on women's stories. "I hope that the book club readers will be entertained, enlightened, and empowered by the novels that we are going to read together," she said.

Historical romance readers can sign up for the club now at Mills & Boon's website. After it launches, the duchess will share her thoughts on each title she endorses. Ferguson is a life-long fan of the genre, which inspired her to write her own book with Marguerite Kaye, who has written over 50 fictional historical romance novels. The two are already working on a sequel to Her Heart for a Compass, which will be released next year. "We're delighted to partner with her on this book club and know it will bring new readers to the novels and writers that the duchess has selected," the publisher said Friday.

Although Her Heart for a Compass earned a spot on the Sunday Times' Top 10 bestsellers list, the book was not a hit with critics. The Telegraph gave the book a two-star rating, calling it an "interminable doorstopper" at 540 pages. The book is set in 1865 and centers on Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, who tries to go against the expectations of a royal family member in the Victorian age. "History buffs will be unimpressed by a passing reference to the Second Reform Act, while feminists will not feel particularly enlightened to learn that life for wimmin was wont to be a bit rum," reads the Telegraph's review.

Aside from the launch of her book club, Ferguson also celebrated a major victory by successfully stopping the demolition of ancient oak trees near her childhood home that inspired her book The Enchanted Oak Tree. "On the eve of the COP26 summit, this shows how local democracy can work and protect our precious natural environment. Developers may yet appeal but today we can celebrate," she wrote on Oct. 28.

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The Duchess of York was married to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, from 1986 to 1996. The two are parents to Princesses Beatrice, 33, and Eugenie, 31. Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, welcomed a son in February, while Beatrice and husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi welcomed a daughter in September.