14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.5 A riveting read,
This review is from: Merivel: A Man of His Time (Hardcover)
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.