The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War, and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England

The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War, and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England

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by Adrian Tinniswood

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More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA


More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA

Editorial Reviews

Sunday Times (UK)
A compelling drama of marriage, death, madness, adventure and travel...[a] very engaging book.
Publishers Weekly

Drawing on a vast correspondence of more than 30,000 letters, British historian Tinniswood (By Permission of Heaven) tells the story of a remarkable elite English family in the 17th century. The Verneys' lives intersected with many historic events, such as the spread of empire: in 1634, for example, a dissolute and disobedient son was sent by his parents to the new English colony, Virginia. (He didn't last long, and returned home only to be packed off to the navy.) Civil war and religious reform sometimes divided the family, but Tinniswood is equally interested in narrating their private dramas: a scandalous out-of-wedlock pregnancy, coming-of-age conflicts between fathers and sons and arguments about whether one should marry for love or money. Although Tinniswood isn't afraid to reveal the less likable qualities of his protagonists, such as the men's sexual liberties, readers will find themselves genuinely enjoying the Verneys. While careful not to suggest that the Verneys were protofeminists, Tinniswood notes that the family often produced "powerful matriarchs" who were extremely capable. Throughout, Tinniswood ably explains the basics of 17th-century English politics, so that even readers unfamiliar with English history will be able to enjoy this absorbing family history. Map. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
Absorbing chronicle of a prominent 17th-century English family. With characteristic aplomb, British architectural historian Tinniswood (By Permission of Heaven, 2004, etc.) adjusts his gaze to focus on the aristocratic Verneys, who had a particularly fascinating-and occasionally sordid-history. Drawing upon a treasure trove of more than 30,000 letters, the "largest and most continuous private collection of seventeenth-century correspondence in Britain," the author chronicles the lives of "apparently ordinary" members of the Buckinghamshire gentry who were, in fact, anything but ordinary. In unfalteringly lively prose, Tinniswood sorts out the complicated family history, weaving into a rich tapestry everyone from miscreant Sir Francis, a pirate and mercenary who met an untimely end far from home after renouncing his wealth and country, to staid patriarch Sir Ralph and his extended clan. Given subjects who enacted more real-life melodramas than a Restoration tragedy, the author is even afforded an opportunity to muse upon the complicated 17th-century history of mental illness. Tinniswood chronicles with great feeling young Mary Verney's descent into psychotic fits, as well as many other sad episodes documented in detail by frank family letters. These enable him to present an invaluable case study of aristocratic Stuart England's manners, customs and affairs-financial, legal and amorous. The author's admiration for the Verneys is evident on every page, as is his thorough research. Tinniswood's previous histories were occasionally didactic; this tome proves that, given the right material, he possesses a novelist's talent for storytelling. Agent: Felicity Bryan/Felicity Bryan Literary Agency

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Penguin Publishing Group
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2 MB
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18 Years

What People are saying about this

Ross King
A wonderful group portrait of an eccentric and ill-starred dynasty. Expertly handling the humorous words and unwise deeds of several generations of Verneys, Adrian Tinniswood breathes life into the turbulent history of an entire century. (Ross King, author of Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling and Brunelleschi's Dome)

Meet the Author

Adrian Tinniswood is the author of His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren and Visions of Power: Ambition and Architecture from Ancient Times to the Present. He is a respected author, lecturer, and broadcaster in Britain and the United States.

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The Verneys 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a truly amazing book. It is that most rare of histories that reads like a novel that can't be put down. Mr. Tinniswood has given us a window into a world that has both vanished, and at the same time is so much like our own. One cannot read this book without falling in love with the Verney family - the stalwarts, rogues, crazy old aunts, and all the other characters that make up a big sprawling family. Read and be drawn in to this captivating world.