Merivel
  • Pages: 352
  • ISBN: 9780099548430
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Binding: Paperback

Merivel

A Man of His Times

Rose Tremain
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Description

The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone and Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to King Charles II, sets off for the French court in search of a fresh start. But royal life at the Palace of Versailles – all glitter in front and squalor behind – leaves him in despair, until a chance encounter with the seductive Madame de Flamanville allows him to dream of a different future. However, summoned home urgently to attend to the ailing King, Merivel finds his loyalty and skill tested to their limits.

Reviewed by Maggie Fergusson in Slightly Foxed Issue 64.

Love and Friendship

MAGGIE FERGUSSON

Perhaps the invented character who has most haunted Rose Tremain, and her readers, is Robert Merivel, a courtier to King Charles II, a joyful, wanton, blundering, yearning man constantly
thrown back by the king’s displeasure on his friendship with an austere Quaker doctor, John Pearce. Merivel is impossible not to love, making us laugh over one page and weep over the next. When she first introduced him in Restoration (1989) her aim was to reflect the climate of materialism and excess under Margaret Thatcher. She was searching for ‘a mirror age’ in which similar radical change came very fast. The return of Charles II in 1660, ‘bringing colour and noise and selfish, showy abandon back into a society so long clad in puritan black’, seemed the perfect historical moment . . .

Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 64, Winter 2019



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