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Merivel: A Man of His Time Paperback – 18 Jul 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (18 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099548437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099548430
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Social, political and physical labyrinth" (Frances Osborne Evening Standard)

"Satisfying... agreeably sardonic" (Quentin Letts Daily Mail)

"One of the great imaginative creations in English literature" (Daily Telegraph)

"An unadulterated delight" (Independent)

"Rich and satisfying" (Lindsay Duguid Sunday Times)

"A tour de force of literary technique, a treasure house of diligent research and imaginative ingenuity" (Jane Shilling Telegraph)

"Wonderfully entertaining" (Michael Holroyd Guardian, Books of the Year)

"Her feeling for the spirit of the times is triumphant" (Charlotte Moore Spectator)

"A rich, glowing portrait" (Daisy Hay Observer)

"Her characters laugh, cry, plot and flounder so convincingly that they take up residence in your head and refuse to go away" (Mary Crockett Scotland on Sunday)

"This book is richly marbled with intelligence, compassion and compelling characters, leavened with flourishes of lyricism and an attractive tolerance towards human frailties" (Angus Clarke The Times)

"What ultimately makes the book such a joy is simply being in Merivel’s company. His narration is by turns rueful, comic, despairing and joyful; but it’s always bursting with life, always good-hearted - and always entirely loveable" (James Walton Daily Mail)

"A delight" (Lucy Beresford Literary Review)

"At times witty and enchanting, on other occasions full of doubt and self-loathing, Merivel remains a stunning achievement. He is Everyman and speaks to us all" (Virginia Blackburn Sunday Express)

"Exuberance is a very hard thing to sustain in a novel… However, Tremain brings it off brilliantly. As one might expect, this is a very funny novel, full of picaresque adventure, hapless accidents and ingeniously wrought slapstick. However, it is also a very moving and beautiful novel. There are passages here which I found myself reading over and over again simply in order to savour them. Merivel: A Man of His Time may have been a long time coming, but it’s been well worth the wait" (John Preston Mail on Sunday)

"Merivel is excellent company. Writing with a mimic’s ear for conversation, whimsical one moment, grave the next, Tremain has an underlying preoccupation here: the last third of live, love and loss, loneliness and vanity" (Maggie Fergusson Intelligent Life)

Book Description

The major new novel from prize-winning bestseller Rose Tremain, set in Restoration England - shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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.
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