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Merivel: A Man of His Time


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Now reissued with a stunning new jacket look, Merivel is a dazzling novel about loyalty and dreams set in Restoration England

About the Author

Rose Tremain's novels and short stories have been published in thirty countries and have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Dylan Thomas Award (The Colonel's Daughter and Other Stories), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country). Her most recent novel, The Gustav Sonata, was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. It won the National Jewish Book Award in the US, the South Bank Sky Arts Award in the UK and was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Rose Tremain was made a CBE in 2007 and a Dame in 2020. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer, Richard Holmes.


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 *

Master of a fine estate; father of a beautiful, intelligent daughter; favorite of the king; a rich eventful life behind him, Sir Robert Merivel should be happy, but the rollicking hero of Restoration (the basis for a film starring Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself restless and pining for something more. His daughter suggests he seek wholeness by discovering his Life's Work, a seemingly glorious quest, and what more glorious place to seek it than the newly built Versailles, court of the world's wealthiest, most powerful monarch? Hanging around with other supplicants, Merivel despairs of being noticed until he catches the attention of a beautiful, brilliant botanist who convinces him to pursue his quest at her father's castle in Switzerland. Unfortunately, a summons from King Charles arrives, and Merivel is off again to wait on his adored monarch, only to find his estate neglected, devoted servant dead, daughter engaged, and the king deathly ill-confronting him once again with the philosophical conundrums that sent him off in the first place. VERDICT Tremain's latest will appeal to sophisticated readers of historical fiction who appreciate a richly painted setting enlivened by an intriguingly empathetic portrait of Charles II and an all-too-human hero-passionate, paradoxical, self-destructive, and infinitely sympathetic. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/12.]-Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Set in 1683, 15 years after the end of Tremain's Restoration, this sequel finds sometime doctor, sometime court jester Robert Merivel restless despite his comfortable county estate in England. Merivel travels to Versailles looking for joie de vivre, encountering instead a cliquish court, shabby accommodations, and an ill-treated pet bear. Merivel sends the bear back to England before returning himself to attend to his ailing daughter, Margaret. Though she recovers-and the prospect of a new romance, with a gay Swiss Guard's beautiful, neglected wife, Louise de Flamanville, arises in the meantime- Merivel remains weary, disappointed, and haunted by memories, his malaise mirroring that of King Charles II, whose reign is ending with England beset by poverty and unrest. As before, Tremain contrasts beauty and coarseness, melancholy and slapstick, tenderness and pageantry. Wonderfully rich scenes light up the meandering narrative: the King's mistress in retreat; the bear on the loose; Merivel walking the royal dogs. If something seems lacking, that may only be in comparison with the first novel's unflagging inventiveness and its film adaptation's unrestrained opulence, and from Tremain's focus on the Restoration's sadder, waning days, with both Merivel and Charles realizing how short of their former promise their lives have fallen. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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