Merivel: A Man of His Time

Merivel: A Man of His Time

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by Rose Tremain, Sean Barrett
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview


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 honorable 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
The Herald - Rosemary Goring
“Tremain’s control of her character and her reflective but often dramatic unfolding of events are impressive acts of authorial ventriloquism, in which she gives a nod to the great diarists of that era but carries off her own man’s story with wit, grace and originality. . . . She not only effortlessly sustains momentum and mood, but brings the novel to as near a perfect ending as one could wish.”
The Observer - Daisy Hay
“When he appeared in 1989, Merivel was truly the man of the Thatcherite moment, an individualistic, hedonistic creature who held up a mirror to his audience. So does he still have something to say to us in 2012?Resoundingly, yes.”
The Daily Telegraph - Mick Brown
“Robert Merivel is one of the great imaginative creations in English literature of the past 50 years. [Merivel is] as rich and as dazzling as its predecessor—steeped in wise and witty reflection on the great Mysteries of Life, and the timeless, futile Hopes and Follies.”
The Daily Mail - James Walton
“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.”
The Times - Angus Clarke
“Richly marbled with intelligence, compassion and compelling characters, leavened with flourishes of lyricism and and attractive tolerance towards human frailties.”
The Herald
“Tremain’s control of her character and her reflective but often dramatic unfolding of events are impressive acts of authorial ventriloquism, in which she gives a nod to the great diarists of that era but carries off her own man’s story with wit, grace and originality. . . . She not only effortlessly sustains momentum and mood, but brings the novel to as near a perfect ending as one could wish.”— Rosemary Goring
The Observer
“When he appeared in 1989, Merivel was truly the man of the Thatcherite moment, an individualistic, hedonistic creature who held up a mirror to his audience. So does he still have something to say to us in 2012?
Resoundingly, yes.”— Daisy Hay
The Daily Telegraph
“Robert Merivel is one of the great imaginative creations in English literature of the past 50 years. [Merivel is] as rich and as dazzling as its predecessor—steeped in wise and witty reflection on the great Mysteries of Life, and the timeless, futile Hopes and Follies.”— Mick Brown
The Daily Mail
“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
The Times
“Richly marbled with intelligence, compassion and compelling characters, leavened with flourishes of lyricism and and attractive tolerance towards human frailties.”— Angus Clarke
Rosemary Goring - The Herald
“Tremain’s control of her character and her reflective but often dramatic unfolding of events are impressive acts of authorial ventriloquism, in which she gives a nod to the great diarists of that era but carries off her own man’s story with wit, grace and originality. . . . She not only effortlessly sustains momentum and mood, but brings the novel to as near a perfect ending as one could wish.”
Daisy Hay - The Observer
“When he appeared in 1989, Merivel was truly the man of the Thatcherite moment, an individualistic, hedonistic creature who held up a mirror to his audience. So does he still have something to say to us in 2012?
Resoundingly, yes.”
Mick Brown - The Daily Telegraph
“Robert Merivel is one of the great imaginative creations in English literature of the past 50 years. [Merivel is] as rich and as dazzling as its predecessor—steeped in wise and witty reflection on the great Mysteries of Life, and the timeless, futile Hopes and Follies.”
James Walton - The Daily Mail
“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.”
Angus Clarke - The Times
“Richly marbled with intelligence, compassion and compelling characters, leavened with flourishes of lyricism and and attractive tolerance towards human frailties.”
Booklist
“Starred review. It’s an absolute pleasure to spend time in Merivel’s company.”
Daily Beast
“Hilarious and poignant. . . . Fans of Restoration will not be disappointed.”
Richard Eder - Boston Globe
““Not just pleasurable, but varied, engrossing, and at times, astonishing.”
From the Publisher
"Surely one of the most versatile novelists writing today." —Daily Express
"Vivid, original and always engaging." —The Times
"Rose Tremain writes comedy that can break your heart." — Literary Review
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Tremain (Trespass, 2010, etc.) pens a follow-up to her novel Restoration, first published in 1989, about a 17th-century English physician with a self-deprecating wit. It's November, 1683, a mere 15 years after Robert Merivel's return to his estate in Bidnold, and manservant Will Gates, now 74 to his master's 57, is still alive, and though not exactly kicking, he's tottering around and comically caring for his employer. Suffering from crying jags and melancholy, the troubled doctor is in somewhat of a rut. His daughter Margaret is becoming more independent with each day, and he's wallowing in self-pity and loneliness. Merivel's youth is now behind him, and though he's had a colorful existence to date, he fears that his life has served no lasting purpose. Recognizing her father's depression, Margaret urges him to put some spice back in his life while she vacations in Cornwall with their neighbors, and Merivel decides to make good on her suggestion. As he travels among France, Switzerland, London and Bidnold, Merivel does, indeed, find adventure, excitement and moments of unadulterated happiness. But he also experiences times of personal loss and extreme sadness. Merivel recounts these years in touching and bawdy detail: his involvement with Madame Louise de Flamanville, a woman whose interests and sexual appetite equal his own; his friendship with a humble clockmaker with whom he shares quarters while both attempt to gain access to King Louis XIV in Versailles; his empathy toward a caged bear he tries to rescue. Tremain's genius lies in her ability to portray Merivel in multifaceted ways that make him human and ultimately likable. He's at times a self-indulgent, impulsive scamp who commits outrageous acts, but he also exhibits an admirable side. Tremain's sequel can be read as a stand-alone, but readers may struggle to understand many of the events the main character alludes to in the narrative.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620649626
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have been published in thirty countries. She is the winner of the Orange Broadband Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Her novel Restoration was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent novels are Trespass and Merivel. She lives in Norfolk and London.

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Merivel: A Man of His Time 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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