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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait follow up to Restoration
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...
Published 22 months ago by Ripple

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts
Overall did not really work for me. Yet I could see the humour would appeal to some of my friends. Bit slow, bit contrived, bit predictable.
Published 2 months ago by Lawman


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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait follow up to Restoration, 5 Sep 2012
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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. Also lacking is Merivel's moral sidekick from "Restoration", the Quaker Pearce, although his voice is still much in Merivel's mind.

There's a sadness to Merivel's life as he recalls his glory days. Setting off in search of adventure, he finds himself variously in the Versailles court of King Louis and even as far as Switzerland, inevitably for Merivel, in pursuit of romance. Along the way he acquires a bear and loses those close to him. Part of Merivel's charm has always been his balancing of hope and despair. He is constantly torn by his loves for animals, his daughter, his staff and his king and his love for selfish advancement. Sub-titled "A Man of His Time", Merivel is an everyman with very human qualities that the reader can associate with.

This is historic fiction at its most entertaining and a worthy successor to "Restoration". As even King Charles appreciates, time spent with Merivel is seldom time wasted. You may well need a handkerchief, ideally laundered by Merivel's frequent bedfellow and laundry woman, Rosie Pierpoint, towards the end of the book. Where Merivel goes, disaster is seldom far away so what more could you expect.

"Restoration" is one of my all time favourite novels. To even come close to this is no small achievement and "Merivel A Man of His Time" does not disappoint.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Welcome Return of a Lovable Scoundrel, 2 Sep 2012
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Susie B - See all my reviews
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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. However, there are compensations in the form of a lady botanist, who is an attractive distraction from all that is going on around him and so, of course, we see Merivel setting off in pursuit of another sexual adventure. But there is the small matter of the lady's husband to contend with... And did I mention the big, brown bear that Merivel manages to acquire on his travels?

Rose Tremain has a marvellous eye for detail and she has written an engaging picaresque tale, full of roguish adventures, intrigue, comedy, romance and fleshly delights, but although parts of this story burst with life, it does have its darker moments too. In 'Restoration' Rose Tremain created a wonderfully profligate, yet generous-hearted rogue, with his stockings, knee breeches and flouncy ruffles, and it is good to see him back in the saddle in 'Merivel'; we may not always approve of his actions but we find it difficult to be too hard on the perpetrator of the deed. But is this book as good as 'Restoration'? Well it's a long time since I read 'Restoration', but 'Merivel' is a marvellously entertaining read and I'd say that, although sequels do not generally have the freshness and impact of the original novel, Rose Tremain has created a very worthy successor in 'Merivel' and, in doing so, has provided her readers with some first-rate entertainment.

5 Stars.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 A riveting read, 10 Sep 2012
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Merivel is a complex character. At times he demonstrates very questionable morals, at other times he shows admirable compassion and understanding, particularly towards his ageing servants, who have been with him through both good and bad times. He is devoted to his daughter, Margaret, and protects her by hiding from her the history of her parentage.

Merivel seems to be either very much in favour with the King or, after having displeased him greatly, very much out of favour. His fortunes vary accordingly

As a physician he shows his caring side. Some of the descriptions of the medical procedures of the day are a bit difficult to stomach, but it is clear that he does his best to minimize discomfort for his patients.

When Margaret is planning to go away for a few weeks with her closest friend, Merivel knows he will be lonely and melancholy, and plans his own diversions. He asks King Charles for a letter of introduction to the French King, Louis XIV, at Versailles. Merivel's journey to Versailles, and his time there, are not without incident. Some of the characters he meets there, also waiting to seek audience with Louis, make a lasting impression on Merivel, and one in particular lifts him from his melancholy.

When Merivel returns to England he does not return alone. He finds that Margaret has been taken very ill and he devotes his time to caring for her and using all his medical knowledge to try to save her life.

Despite his many shortcomings, I found myself becoming very fond of Merivel, and suffered with him when times were hard.

An interesting insight into social history, the mores of the times, the comparatively basic medical knowledge of the times, and so much more.

Although this stands alone, I now want to read Restoration to read about Merivel's earlier days.

An absorbing read - thoroughly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Reflection on Growing Old, 25 July 2013
I found this a really satisfying read that developed a powerful cumulative effect as it went on. Readers of Restoration won't be disappointed by another picaresque plot, and Merivel is as charming as ever - but beneath the surface the story is a shrewd and warm hearted reflection on the foolishnesses, frustrations, ironies and misplaced hopes of growing old. Perhaps I felt this so strongly because I'm a similar age to the Merivel we meet in this book, but I was certainly deeply moved.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious, 23 Sep 2012
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Robert Merivel is a marvellous creation, and his exploits in this book are every bit as moving and hilarious as they were in 'Restoration'. 'Merivel' is funny and devastating all at once, and glows with the warmth of it's soppy, silly, joyful and heart-breaking protagonist. I absolutely adored it. Wonderful, life-affirming stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Falstaffian hero - The Merry Wives of Restoration, 21 April 2013
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Rose Tremain is an author I've long admired. She knows how to craft a story, she creates extremely interesting, well rounded, individual and realistic characters, her use of language is wonderful, fitting, often very rich, but not self-indulgent. She has a great sense of time and place. And she seems to have things to say. And, almost more than this, she writes many different books - not the same one, in a formulaic fashion, over and over.

So it was a surprise, on one level, to find her revisiting the past, producing a sequel to the richly satisfying, hugely successful, Restoration, which was published more than 20 years ago. Her central character (fictitious) a larger than life physician, Robert Merival, later Sir Robert, and his relationship with Charles II (and some of the real cast of characters surrounding him) was a rich, inventive tragi-comic read.

Fast forward 17 years in the life of Merivel, and what we have is something slightly different. Age has intensified the nature of all the principal characters, both real and imagined. And Merivel has become Falstaffian in his ability to be deluded, often shallow, excessively driven by superficial desires, humorous, fun loving, clumsy, the butt of jokes - but loving, loyal, tender hearted. Like Falstaff, he is the jester who can break our hearts, and whose own heart is frequently broken, by his genuine love towards his king

This is a darker journey than Restoration. The subtext here is not the flowering and the crazy parties and the sweeping away of restriction of Restoration. Death is the constant character whose shadow grows larger. Merivel is now in his late 50s and we know this is set towards the end of Charles' reign. Remembered characters from Restoration are now either dead, or inching towards death. Often raging against the dying of the light

The reader does not need to have read Restoration to appreciate this stand-alone work. Tremain, her artistry sure, finds plausible and meaningful ways to tell the back-story. She shows her craft again here - it's a trap a lot of writers seem to stumble over - how do you give the reader information which THEY may need to know when the characters themselves will all already have that information, particularly if you are writing a first person narrative. All too often the lesser writer will have two luminaries in conversation with each other, and (for example) Albert Einstein turns to Neils Bohr and says `so let me remind you, Neils, of my Theory of Relativity' Tremain does nothing crass. What the new reader needs to know (and the old, forgetful reader to know again) is effortlessly fed in little sippets. It felt like having memory reawakened, but through the filter of an older, darkening Merivel

If this doesn't hit quite so many fizzy high spots as Restoration, and I had a few 'hmm, could it really have been like this' moments that is in keeping with a Merivel who is more conscious of where journeys must end.

One small niggle - I was slightly surprised, given the extraordinary level of widescale rumpy pumpy encounters within these pages, that in an era before prophylactics, the characters all remained pox and baby free!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Rose Tremain, 7 Dec 2012
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This is a great novel,a superb follow up to "Restoration". Ms Tremain is up there with Hilary Mantel in her evocation of character and period, and the quality of her writing is captivating. Humour, delight and tragedy are captured in this very special story. Thank you, Ms Tremain , for another great treat. Your writing enriches my life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable sequel to restoration, 25 Nov 2012
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A very enjoyable second instalment of the adventure of Merivel at the court (to some degree) and in the time of Charles II. As with the first book, this has a very episodic structure - and we have life waiting at the court of the Sun King to see the Sun King, life back on the Norfolk estate with 17 year old daughter and King Charles, life visiting a paramour in Switzerland (with the excitement of a duel thrown in), and a final section, The Great Transition, bringing us to the end of Charles' reign.

Altogether, this is very satisfying and very enjoyable. Rose Tremain has thought herself into what looks like a very plausible character, but more than that into very interesting 17th century modes of thought and expression. Has coupled this with historical insight into the reign. And with a flowing and compelling narrative in which you never know what is coming next - but you do know that you are going to enjoy it.

Strongly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book., 28 Jun 2014
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Fascinating book. Really captures this time period. Lower stakes than Restoration because Merival is older and no longer subject to the vagaries of love, but the ending is surprisingly satisfying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, 31 May 2014
There is nothing not to like about this novel. The main character is totally flawed and yet everything a human being should be. You empathise with his lot, sympathise with his predicament and still find him touching and funny. Beautifully written, a must read.
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