The Restoration is over and Robert Merivel, renowned physician and courtier to Charles II, now faces the anxieties of middle age. Questions crowd his mind: has he been a good father? Is he a fair master? Is he the King's friend or the King's slave? In search of answers, Merivel sets off for the French court. But Versailles leaves him in despair, until a chance encounter with a seductive Swiss botanist allows him to dream of an honourable future. But back home, his loyalty and medical skill are about to be tested to the limit, while the captive bear he has brought back from France begins to cause havoc....
With a cascade of lace at his neck and a laugh that can burst out of him in the midst of torment, Merivel is soulful, outrageous and achingly sad. His unmistakable, self-mocking voice speaks directly to us down the centuries. Get ready to laugh, prepare to weep - Robert Merivel is back in Rose Tremain's magical sequel to Restoration.
©2012 Rose Tremain (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
A difficult book to review. I was enthralled by the incredible tale of this very sad man. The narrator was amazing, the script brilliant but if a reader is not into history I would not recommend. However, if anything like me - go for it. It is memorable.
I'm familiar with the narrator from Scandinavian crime fiction audiobooks, so it took me a short while to adjust, but once I did, Sean Barrett became utterly convincing as Merivel, and the many other characters, and this wonderful novel has fixed him in my memory like an old friend. Merivel is very human, warts and all, and he felt very real to me, and so did the period he inhabits thanks to the wonderful quality of the writing. I got through this in 3 sittings and didn't want it to end. Beautifully written and absorbing from start to end.
This was simply joy to listen to. Reader is wonderful, book is great, possibly better than Restoration.
"Merivel, my top audiobook for 2012"
I loved this audio book superbly ready by Sean Barrett. I first encountered Merivel when I read Restoration by Rose Tremain, many years ago and it was an excellent introduction to historical fiction. It was good to find that Rose Tremain has written a sequel, although the books could be heard (or read) independently of each other.
Now in middle age and with a tendency towards melancholia, we learn how Merivel deals with his relationships - with his daughter, with his friend King Charles, with his loyal servants and even with a brown bear. His adventures take him takes him from his estate in Norfolk to the Court of King Louis in Versailles where he encounters disenchantment but also romance. However nothing can be straightforward with Merivel, as we learn! A medical man, there is also a fascinating and sometimes horrific insight into the treatments of the time.
Undoubtedly a first rate listen and one I will want to hear again and again.
"Not as good as Restoration"
I like Sean Barrett. His reading of the Grail Trilogy by Bernard Cornwell in particular is superb.
I enjoyed Merivel. It didn't give me much of a historical feel as Restoration did, perhaps it was a little exaggerated. The sub header - a man of his Times - is, I think supposed to indicate that the book is about Merivel's decline along with the crown. The author seems to have decided that a good way to express this was by making both Merivel and the king extremely lewd and though I am sure that people in those days were as rampant as they are today, the impression given just wasn't very believable.
"A quiet masterpiece."
I like Rose Tremain's books very much indeed, at least half a dozen of them are five star reads, but was never a fan of Restoration and a little dissappointed to see this appear.
BUT it knocked 'the wedge' into a cocked hat in my opinion. Brilliant. Merivel is King Charles the 2nd's fool and he is often ridiculous, but this account of his later life is never anything but elegant. It is also by turns very funny and quite sad.
What on earth will she write next? While I'm waiting I suppose I'd better go back and see if I just didn't get Restoration years ago.
"A great book"
I think I enjoyed this book more than the first! I felt I was revisiting an old friend and I was as pleased to hear how he had fared as if he was a real acquaintance. Rose Tremain creates such wonderful and utterly credible characters. The historical context is faultless. The plot moves along with pace and interest. I loved this book and would like to know how the author manages to evoke such affectionate feelings towards an invented character?
"A Wonderful Sequel"
Rose Tremaine's 1989 novel, Restoration, was such a feast for the reader, so funny, so well-researched, so humane and so moving, that I doubted whether she could possibly succeed with a sequel, especially more than twenty years later. In fact, she pulls it off wonderfully. Though still liberally peppered with sex and low comedy, this is a more sombre tale. Merivel, King Charles and the other characters who careered through the pages of the first book, are fifteen years older. Old age and sickness are beginning to take their toll. The whole mood of the country has changed and disillusion with the monarch has set in. Merivel now bears the responsibility for the welfare of his teenage daughter, Margaret. Despite this, he is still a man inclined to pleasure, flawed but likeable, weak but disarmingly honest. It is this weakness that is the wellspring of the plot. When his daughter is given a place at court and Merivel finds himself alone in his big house, he decides to to set off for Versailles in search of a purpose and a position with Louis XIV. Instead he becomes enamoured of a captive bear and involved with the wife of a member of the Swiss Guard. What makes Tremaine a really first-class writer is the depth of her characterisation and the honesty of her writing. She is not afraid to tackle any subject. She goes wherever human beings go. There is a remarkable scene in a stagecoach in which a woman exposes herself to a group of male passengers that is simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. I can't imagine anyone else writing it with such ease and such obvious relish. I enjoyed this book enormously. It made me feel glad to be alive and this recording was perfectly pitched.
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