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Restoration (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Rose Tremain
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 July 2009 Vintage Classics


Robert Merivel is a dissolute young medical student when an accident of fate leads him to the attention of King Charles II. Finding favour with the King, Merivel embarks on the time of his life, enthusiastically enjoying the luxury, women and wine of the vibrant royal court, until he is called upon to serve his monarch in an unusual role. However, when he fails at the one thing the King demands of him he is cast out from his new found paradise. Determined to be restored to the King's favour, Merivel begins a journey to self-knowledge that takes him to the depths of seventeenth-century society.

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Restoration (Vintage Classics) + Merivel: A Man of His Time + Music & Silence
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099529637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099529637
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,281,414 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


"Triumphant" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Gripping" (Herald)

"A most beautiful and original novel" (Independent)

"A dazzling triumph. It is nothing less than superb" (New York Times Book Review)

"To be moved and impressed by a novel and yet so entertained, is rare" (Fay Weldon)

Book Description

The bestselling and much-loved classic from Orange Prize-winning Rose Tremain, Restoration introduces us to the young Robert Merivel and his rise and fall through glittering seventeenth-century society.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "In this age, all fortunes are made in court." 20 Sep 2005
Robert Merivel, who has studied to be a physician, is appointed, ironically, to be veterinarian for the spaniels of King Charles II, who has recently been restored to the throne following the death of Oliver Cromwell. Merivel enjoys the gaiety and frivolity of court life, and, a bit of a fool, he entertains the king. The king's decision to placate one of his lovers by marrying off his favorite mistress to Robert Merivel, spells the beginning of the end for Merivel's tenuous fortunes. Warned not to fall in love with his wife, Celia Clemence, since the king intends to continue seeing her, Merivel cannot help himself, and he is cast out, losing not only the king's affection, but also his house and, of course his wife.
Joining a group of men who work at an asylum for the insane, Merivel learns that there are deeper concerns in life than the hedonism of his life at court, and he develops genuine affection for several of the kindly Quaker men with whom he works. When he transgresses the society's rules, however, he is cast out from there, too, ending up in London at the time of the Great Plague and eventually the Great London Fire.
Painting vivid pictures of Merivel's life--at court, at the asylum in Whittlesea, and in the neighborhoods of London--author Rose Tremain brings the age, its customs, its science, and its social structure to life. The years of 1664 - 1666 are especially difficult, and as Merivel lives through the horrors of the Plague and the panic of the Great Fire, which Tremain recreates with the drama they deserve, the reader can see Merivel becoming less a fool and more a human.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different but truly superb 22 Aug 2009
I have read other books by Rose Tremain and found this very different. You have to stick with this book in the beginning but I found it a really absorbing and highly entertaining read once it got going. Her main character, Merivel is superbly characterized and on the surface quite loathsome but you end up feeling very fond of him because he knows his own weaknesses and is always trying to improve himself. I laughed out loud on several occassions because she vividly depicts the scenes so well. It is historical and she relates the lavish lives of the royal court in contrast to the extreme poverty on the streets with great skill - it is all done within Merivel's narration which I found captivating. Try it - I am sure you will enjoy this unusual journey.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The heart exposed! 4 Nov 2006
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
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.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best... 27 Oct 2009
If I finish a book and declare it to be one of the best I have ever read, I normally wait a few days before writing a review. If my opinion hasn't changed by the time I take up my pen, I restate the opinion. It doesn't happen often. Rose Tremain's Restoration remains one of the best books I have ever read.

It's a book with everything a good novel should have. There's a thoroughly endearing, involving and interesting central character. There's a wonderful backdrop in mid-seventeenth century England. There's intellectual pursuit, carnal knowledge, earthy lifestyle, religious revelation and a good deal of excellent cooking. There are complicated relationships, both unrequited and requited love, commissions from royalty, the proximity of madness and, to keep everything in perspective, a keen sense of the absurd. And, alongside all of that, we live through some great historical events in the restoration of the monarchy, the plague and a Great Fire.

But central to everything is the remarkable Robert Merivel. He's a talented individual who threatens to achieve but rarely does. He's never a success but manages to stumble upon a succession of remarkable achievements. He drops out of his studies as a physician, but practices as a doctor. He gets a special job from the king, but fluffs it. He lands a job that's a meal ticket for life and gets kicked out.

Through Merivel's eyes we experience the sounds, smells and lifestyle of London, the opulence of high society, courtesy of royal patronage and then the frugality of religious commitment. We also appreciate how knowledge and thus assumptions can change. We enter a world where Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood is still novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
very hard going
Published 5 days ago by sparror hawk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Full of good intentions bur equally flawed, a mirror to his times
Published 14 days ago by Greg Law
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time
When I started this book, it took a few chapters of somewhat "uphill reading" but then I was sucked into the world of Merivel and I never wanted to leave. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Charlotte Steggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Merivel
Adored Merivel. The man was drawn with great humanity. He had many flaws and thankfully they did not all disappear as the novel went on. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. C. M. Atkins
2.0 out of 5 stars Delirium Tremanes
If you like rich folk in hose, doublet, wigs and gaudy outfits talking in rhymes this is a book for you. I read it because I was stuck in a tent for two days in the rain. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Claire
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Rise Tremain at her best. Wonderful.
Published 1 month ago by Judith Busbridge and Bernard
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
recommended by a friend, and quite enjoyable.
Published 1 month ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fascinating story but Rose Tremain
Excellent read from one of my favourite authors. Second hand copy in good condition.
Published 1 month ago by kielerkate
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Hard work
Published 2 months ago by Aestival
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally absorbing
Here, in Merivel, is Everyman. No great hero - a person with many faults - but honest to the core and so full of compassion and sensitivity in spite of his faults. Read more
Published 4 months ago by wormwood
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