For me this was a wonderful historic novel written with delightful elegance by a very talented writer. Tremain captures, displaying erudite control, humour and pathos, the licentiousness of the court of Charles II, recently restored following the trauma of civil war and Puritan rule. The principal character, Robert Merivel (who develops an Earl of Rochester appetite for magisterial fun and frolics) finds that his fortuitous veterinarian skills grants him access to a world of aristocratic patronage and privilege. Dismissing the cautious advice of the `saintly' Pearce (close friend, Puritan and fellow medical student), Merivel embarks on an obsequious and opulent lifestyle, indulging himself in beribboned, frivolous antics, accompanying a flamboyant lifestyle to support his position as the `protector' of the beautiful Celia, the King's mistress. Tremain's vivid portrayal of Restoration England is not just a lewd drama of social excesses but is also a story of scientific enquiry. And Pearce's humanity and altruistic medical vocation acts as a rewarding juxtaposition to Merivel's hedonism. The friendship between these two characters is sensitively developed and it is through Pearce that Merivel eventually recognises the superficiality of his existence and the rewards of a life centred on a sincere love for others.