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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and stunning book, 17 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
Although there is little of the actual diaries, anyone wanting to know 'why the fuss' about Pepys will find this answers the question. She brings him and his world fully to life, with the effortless inclusion of history that makes you feel much better informed at the end, for example about the Civil War - Englishmen fighting each other on the streets of London, and the attempted Dutch invasion up the Mersey river - as well as very well entertained.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A two bookmark book, 29 Dec. 2014
By 
Mr M.R.Watkinson (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
This is one of few books where I would endorse a cover quote. This really is a fabulously entertaining read. If there is perhaps a smidgen too much "he may have...", and similar authorly colouring of the subject, the author still does a fine job of bringing to life both the subject & his times. As for two bookmarks, with more than 70 pages of notes, much of which is not merely references, this is one of those volumes that you really do need two for - one for where you are, one for where the appropriate notes are! It's organised in three sections; before the diary, the diary years (which actually only covers some 9 years), and afterwards.

It's not too surprising that the diary years form almost half the book; around 180 pages, as compared with about 90 for each of the others. The first & last parts are arranged in roughly chronological order, whilst the middle is organised by topics such as The King, Work, etc, and goes from the beginning to the end of the diary in each chapter, more or less. This is a slight weakness, as the same quotes get re-used rather a lot (for instance, Pepys low opinion of Charles III, especially of his oratorical ability).

But that is a minor quibble. I used to work for the publisher so I picked up my (older) copy of this for practically nothing. Despite a fairly avid interest in history, the period from the Restoration through to the mid-19thC is one I'm not especially keen on. I might otherwise have passed this by & I'm jolly glad I didn't. It really is a very, very good read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant and interesting read, 28 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
Reads like a novel. Well researched and thoroughly presented. History does not need fictitious storytelling to be engaging at all as this work clearly proves.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant research and a good read too., 28 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
This biography reads like a well written novel. The reader begins to care about Pepys, moving away from just being interested in him. You realise that the glory of his diary (which I haven't read, except for the excerts in the book) is that you begin to understand how he felt and how he thought. In many biographies the author has to use actions and a few letters written to someone else (and therefore public) to speculate how the subject felt. With Pepys Claire Tomalin has the evidence of Pepys' personal thoughts which were meant solely for himself to read so we can be more confident that we know him. She uses it well.

The interest about Pepys is that he managed to thrive towards the end of the Cromwell era and become really well regarded and powerful after the Restoration. He was one of those politicians/civil servants who kept his head just below the parapet in dangerous times and became valued by most whatever their persuasion. These were dangerous times far from the oversimplified view of Cromwell = misery and fear, Charles II = lots of fun.

By reading this biography you will find out about the personal life of a poor lad who got almost to the top against the background of an era when the antics of our present politicians had their birth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Briiliant personal and historical account, 10 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
This gives a much fuller historical and judged account of Pepys diaries.
It puts the life in a context and brings to the foreground important aspects which are missing in the diary itself.
Maybe I missed the juiciness of the live dialogue from Pepys' words which accounts for the 4 instead of 5 star rating. But I understood him much better as a human and political being.
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5.0 out of 5 stars what a good book. So well written & easy to read, 8 Nov. 2014
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Pat45 "Pats" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
Wow, what a good book. So well written & easy to read. I had listened to the Diary of Samuel Pepys on Radio 4 Extra & this book has helped me understand better what was happening during the Commonwealth & then the Restoration. Pepys, a very clever man, & comes across as not a totally likeable character. He was certainly a womaniser But there was so much more to him. He suffered greatly with kidney stones & the extent of his suffering was shown after his death when an autopsy was performed & a huge stone was discovered in his kidney which must have given him a great deal of pain. Despite this he found many things in life to enjoy & interest him & I salute his courage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superb biography. Everyone should read it who has ..., 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
A superb biography. Everyone should read it who has even a mild interest in Pepys. Claire Tomalin digs deep into the life and character of this fascinating man. She brings to life the whole period - itself one of the most interesting times in history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive - answers many of the queries raised by the ..., 11 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
Comprehensive - answers many of the queries raised by the Diaries - an indispensable commentary on them and on the life of the man who wrote them.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life in the 1600s, 21 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
I have really enjoyed reading this book. Not only has the author given a biography of Samuel Pepys but she has also provided some family history. In addition, images of Pepys life during the time of Cromwell's Commonwealth and the accession of Charles II are well written.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knock out!, 13 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Paperback)
After reading her biography of Charles Dickens, I was inspired to read this one. It is interesting and hugely entertaining and did not disappoint. Pepys was a fascinating character and she describes him so well in the context of the times. Loved it.
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Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin (Paperback - 21 Jun. 2012)
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