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Merivel: A Man of His Time Paperback – 26 Aug 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (26 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393348938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393348934
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 815,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rose Tremain's novels have won many prizes including: the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music and Silence); the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country); the Sunday Express Book of the Year, the Angel Literary Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Restoration) and a Giles Cooper Award (for her radio play, Temporary Shelter). Her novel The Colour, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and selected for the Daily Mail Reading Club promotion. In June 2007 Rose was made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Product Description

Review

Richly marbled with intelligence, compassion and compelling characters, leavened with flourishes of lyricism and and attractive tolerance towards human frailties. --Angus Clarke"

Book Description

***As heard on 'Book at Bedtime', BBC RADIO 4 ***

The major new historical novel from Orange Prize-winning Rose Tremain, set in Restoration England and starring the world's favourite courtier, Robert Merivel

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Rose Tremain has made fans of her 1989 book "Restoration" wait for a long time before picking up the story of Sir Robert Merivel. Almost as much time has passed in Merivel's world with the book opening in 1683. Leaving a follow up so long can be fraught with danger. For those, like me, who loved "Restoration" at the time, the memory of its central character has grown in fondness over time while some of the detail has been inevitably lost to memory. Thankfully, this is one of those rare things in literature; a very good follow up.

The ideal preparation for this book is probably that you have read "Restoration" but forgotten some of the detail, as Tremain recaps events and Merivel's narration refers to events of the past and to his writing of the first book. This means that you don't strictly have to have read "Restoration" first, and it reveals some light spoilers to the plot if you read them out of order. Although while plot development is part of the joy of the books, the main joy is the characterization of Merivel himself.

Merivel, to the uninitiated, is a physician and courtier to King Charles II. A Falstaff-type character, he is self-depreciating and has an uncanny ability to attract and usually overcome disaster. His behaviour is often selfish and disreputable, but he has a warm heart beneath his rolls of corpulence and he's hard not to love.

What "Merivel" lacks in comparison with "Restoration" is the mirroring of personal events with political times, when Merivel's fortunes and favour with Charles are restored in just the same way as the King is restored to the throne of England. Instead we get the end of the King's reign and Merivel at a loss to find his purpose in live.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 2 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rose Tremain returns to historical fiction with her latest novel 'Merivel' and to a wonderful character she created for one of her previous novels: Sir Robert Merivel, whom we first met in Restoration; however, it is not essential to have read 'Restoration' to enjoy this latest book. Our hero (or anti-hero), Robert Merivel, is a scoundrel, but he is also a physician and courtier at King Charles II's court. In 'Restoration' we saw Merivel rise from relative obscurity to find favour with King Charles, followed by a fall from grace, and then of his restoration to favour. In this new story, as in the previous book, we see that Merivel is well aware of the fact that if he has prospered in life, it is because he possesses the enviable talent of being able to amuse the King of England.

In 'Merivel' our story begins in 1683; we are moving towards the end of King Charles' reign and Merivel is now a man in late middle age, wondering where the years have gone and what now to do with his life. Although Merivel can see the wisdom in leading a more sober existence in his later years, he is not yet ready to lead the quiet life and is still keen for adventure and escapades. Encouraged by his daughter, Margaret, and with the agreement of the king, Merivel heads off to France where he finds himself at Versailles and the splendour of the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Expecting to be marvelled by life at the French court, Merivel is disappointed at the sordidness behind the splendour, and he is dismayed by the gaggle of squabbling fortune hunters surrounding the king.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Kemp on 16 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a sequel to Tremain’s 1989 novel – Restoration - which was a memoir of Sir Robert Merivel, physician, bon-viveur, friend of Charles II and a man who often had cause to reflect upon the unpredictable vicissitudes of life.
Having fallen out of favour with his monarch in this first book, Merivel has been given back his Norfolk property, Bidnold Manor. Time has advanced by 17 years to the early 1680s. His daughter Margaret is growing up to be a vivacious and attractive lady. But life is perhaps just a little too comfortable and unchallenging for Merivel. He gets Charles’s permission to go to Versailles and there seek a position as a court physician to King Louis. Although he is unsuccessful in this, he does meet an unhappily married intelligent Swiss lady, Louise, with whom he starts a passionate affair. Back in England though, Margaret develops typhus and Charles II visits Bidnold to attempt the King’s Cure; he stays there for some time and after her recovery, invites Margaret back to his Court as a lady-in-waiting to his new amour, Louise Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth. Merivel feels bereft and goes to Switzerland to stay with his Louise, where he finds happiness and the beginnings of peace and stability, until news reaches him of Charles II’s failing health and he is summoned back to London, to meet a rather sad conclusion to all his affairs.
Merivel is a wonderfully likable man. Compassionate, impulsive, licentious but thoroughly decent, his character develops from the opening book. Although he a fun-loving man, his essential outlook is negative, often expecting the worst to happen as the essence of the human condition. The narrative is superb and the context of late seventeenth century England feels genuine and authentic.
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