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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best monarchical biography I have read
I do not profess to have any great all-consuming interest in history, let alone the period of the Restoration; I read solely for pleasure on a wide range of topics and will quickly drop any book that does not sustain my interest.

I did not come close to wishing to put down this excellent work. Unlike other 'scholarly biographies', Fraser's book is anything but...
Published on 12 Sept. 2009 by Dr. G. E. Grant

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I dont't know English history well enough to fully enjoy this book
This book is not for beginners in 17th century English history, but at least I learned a lot. A good portrait of a prince leading a diffucult life, and the rather severe style seemingly tries to balance the impression of a popular and merry king.
Published on 20 Feb. 2013 by tricoteuse


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best monarchical biography I have read, 12 Sept. 2009
By 
Dr. G. E. Grant (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
I do not profess to have any great all-consuming interest in history, let alone the period of the Restoration; I read solely for pleasure on a wide range of topics and will quickly drop any book that does not sustain my interest.

I did not come close to wishing to put down this excellent work. Unlike other 'scholarly biographies', Fraser's book is anything but dry, or difficult for a non-expert to follow. It paints a very clear picture not only of Charles, but of his family members, court and acolytes such that by the end I really felt that I had an understanding of the man - his personality, his sense of humour, his temperament and the events that shaped him as a king. The events of his reign are consistently presented with humour and verve, with even the internecine events of the Commonwealth and post-restoration Dutch Wars, and Charles' struggles with parliament easy to follow, and made entertaining. The early part of the book, regarding Charles' flight after the battle of Worcester even reads like an adventure story, without losing authenticity, accuracy or scholarship.

My sole criticism is that in writing the book Fraser seems to have become rather attached to the figure of Charles (who does admittedly seem, on the whole, an attractive and witty personality) to the point where she appears to make excuses for his mistakes, and perhaps defends his corner a little too vigorously. Nonetheless, I would thoroughly recommend this as an entertaining and enlightening book for the general reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colourful, vivid, sympathetic, 6 Jun. 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
This is a well-written biography of Charles II, first published in 1979. Like Fraser's other historical works, this is intelligent, sympathetic and absorbing - and gives us a very colourful picture of Charles II. Only partially the `merry monarch', this traces his life from his birth, exile, the execution of his father and the restoration of the monarchy.

Anyone who's a little shaky on seventeenth-century history and politics might want to read this alongside Fraser's Cromwell, as this barely sketches in the civil wars, and then only in terms of the effect they have on Charles and his mother.

This is a long book, but Fraser keeps our attention well, and her character sketches are vivid and memorable. As other reviewers have said, this does take an unquestioning and positive view towards inherited monarchy and is `on the side' of Charles throughout - perhaps it's difficult as a biographer not to be?

So this isn't a scholarly book but for a wonderfully readable account of the life and personality of Charles II, this is hard to beat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Charles II, 24 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: King Charles II (Hardcover)
The authoress sets out to inform and entertain, she never bores. She clearly had great sympathy for her subject and treats him in a humane way. The book gripped me from start to finish. She explains much of the second half of his life by reference to the first half, the war years and years of exile. I am convinced that this particular biography will still be in print for decades to come. I recommend it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but too one-sided in tone, 17 Dec. 2008
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
A colourful, well written and comprehensive biography. However, the author comes across as very pro-Charles and pro-Royalist, sometimes to the point of sycophancy. That said, I understand that she is also quite sympathetic to Cromwell in her biography of him (though not here), so maybe in part at least her attitude reflects a close identification with a subject she must spend a lot of time focusing on, given the length and thoroughness of her works.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only the merry monarch - understanding Charles II., 25 Feb. 2004
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
Antonia Fraser' s King Charles II. is one of the best ever books written on this King.
This king went down in history as the merry monarch with all this mistresses and bastards children, a barren but not discarded Queen, a fast live with many entertainments.
Well, if one would stop here, one would never understand Charles II..
Antonia Fraser unfolds the life to Charles step by step, guides the reader through the ups and downs, the nightmares of the civil war, the lonely and poor days of a king-in-exile, the restoration and his actual reign. She looks behind the facade: the reader will discover a man following his way, his principles, a man who learned to survive, a man who believed in himself, a man who never gave up, a man with a great zest for life, a very clever man. But there are dark sides too: it was very hard to trust him. There was a very ruthless streak in him.
Antonia Fraser' s fascinating and elegantly written book makes the reader to understand the merry monarch. This book is one of my all time favourite biographies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, 20 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
One of the best historical biographies I have read. Antonia Fraser somehow manages to get to the heart of the matter and makes you think you really know Charles 11. You have the gradual build up from just before the execution of his father , through his wilderness years of exile on the continent , through the joy of his restoration and then his genuine efforts to be a good king. Somehow, despite his extravagances , his string of mistresses and his sometimes misguided policies he is revealed to us as an affable man. He is open, accessible to his subjects and very humane. The author portrays him as someone you would really like to get to know!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book., 2 April 2013
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Antonia Fraser again gives an excellent account of England before and after the Restoration. Also she gets into the character of Charles the Second, hie early life and years in Europe before he became king. Another brilliant book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I dont't know English history well enough to fully enjoy this book, 20 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
This book is not for beginners in 17th century English history, but at least I learned a lot. A good portrait of a prince leading a diffucult life, and the rather severe style seemingly tries to balance the impression of a popular and merry king.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Charles II another great work from Antonia Fraser, 17 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
Antonia Fraser in her foreword explains that while researching Cromwell, Chief of men she was intrigued by Charles 2nd and wanted to learn more. The result is another great book with all her usual scholarly and humanistic feeling for the character. Your come away from with book with another keen insight into history which she paints so vividly and accurately. She has the ability to bring to life every character from history with compassion and feeling, and above all impartiality. Another great book.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At times very confusing, 7 Aug. 2006
This review is from: King Charles II (Paperback)
I greatly enjoyed Antonia Fraser's The Gunpowder Plot, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Weaker Vessel, but this biography of Charles II is slightly disappointing. First of all, no explanation of the civil war is offered at all; the reader is only told a bit about Charles II's childhood and his escape from England - but the background to the civil war is so scant that if I had not read a general history of England some weeks before, I would never have found out from this biography what were the social and political forces that caused the royal family to run away. And yes, this is a biography of Charles II, and perhaps to explain the civil war Ms Fraser would have to write a whole book, but I think some basic background should have been provided. Secondly, while Charles is in exile, the focus on the biography is on him alone; the events in England are ignored and the reader is left unaware of what Cromwell is causing in the country, and why slowly but surely, the English people start wanting Charles back. Again, background knowledge that may be too extensive in a biography of the king, but some minimal information, a summary of the state of the Protectorate, should be included; I was completely lost as to why, after running away from England, a few years later everyone wanted Charles back. Thirdly, the king's relationship with the Queen is glossed over. True, it is pretty detailed to begin with, but then the Queen suddenly falls out of the picture for about 10 years, and reappears when the King's councillors suggest he obtains a divorce because she is Catholic. And you learn no more than that - surely 17th century politics were more complicated than this. So much information has been left out, that after having finished this book I just feel that there is so much that I HAVEN'T learnt about Charles's life, whether in exile or back home in England.

The one part of this book that DID I enjoy was the very vivid and intense narrative of Charles II's escape from England, the chase, the danger, the misery which Charles had to endure in exile, are all very moving, as well as Charles' courage in his tribulations. Sadly, only these first 150 pages are so absorbing.
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King Charles II
King Charles II by Lady Antonia Fraser (Paperback - 6 Jun. 2002)
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