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)2014 Audible, Inc.
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.
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.
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.
Really enjoyed 'Restoration' but reviews of this were not so good, so hesitated for a year or two before buying. Wish I hadn't, really enjoyed this sequal. Tremain's portrayals of both Merivel and Charles II are beautifully drawn, Merivel particlularly is a warts and all characterisation but wholly sympathetic, a very flawed man whom we grow to love. Understanding and detail of the period are faultless, bringing it alive. Highly recommended.
I read Restoration which I greatly enjoyed and came across this sequel on Audible by chance. Charles II has always been a figure that has intrigued me and the way that the unlikely Merivel's life has somehow got intertwined with the monachs makes for a more interesting read than the usual type of historical novel. Far from being a typical choice for me, Merival A Man of his Time has nevertheless turned out to be one of the best audio books I have listened to. The way that Merivel gradually begins to perceive the unfairness of the world and the flaws in his own character is very well handled and the ending, although I had suspected something similar, was exceptional. Sean Barrett conjures up a totally believable Merivel and gives probably one of his finest performances. I listened to this absolutely whenever I could and feel rather bereft now that I have finished. First Class.
Having read both books and really loved them ,it was a joy to see that Merivel was in audio,this version was much better than the audio of Restoration,where the voice did not represent Merivel,s passion and joy for life,this current Merivel was much better,the love for the King and Robert,s daughter could be reflected in how the actor spoke,the shameful acts that he commited and was ashamed of ,was well done and the sadness and longing for the life and love he never really found was also very well put over.This was a very good audio of a cracking good story,and I recommend it ,but unless you read Restoration first,it will not make a lot of sense,but you will love both stories.
My favorite character is Will Gates,Merivel,s faithful servant,who has put up with so much for so long,Merivel,s wild parties,drunk behavior,self pity and eccentric habits,the manor,s decoration,outrageous clothing and dreadful flute playing and painting,all without complaint and with endless patience, when Will gets old ,Robert does not want to ask him to fetch anything as he fears the walk to the kitchen will be so slow,he could possibly die, during the journey,when Will dies he is put in a paupers grave and as Merivel is away from home,and when he hears about the death ,he cannot sleep until Gates is moved to a decent grave with a headstone,as he is loved so dearly by Merivel.
He speaks fluently and with expression,the voice reflected the joy,love and shame that Robert felt,the longing in the reading was very moving in parts,very easy to listen to and enjoy and flowed very naturally and was Merival,and you believed it.
The rise and fall of Merivel,physician,gentleman ,drunkard,and devil.
You do not have to be a history fan to enjoy this book,it has it all ,passion,death,gambling,love,loss,anger and total joy,and as Merivel is a Doctor some medical procedures,one was quite hard to read and listen to,major surgery with no pain relief ,which made me feel a bit peculiar,but it was how these times were.
I was pleased to find this sequel, but it proved a disappointment. There was a sex scene about two thirds through the book which was just gratuitous, unnecessary and quite honestly, repulsive. . I was astonished it had been written by a woman. It seemed pure male fantasy of the crudest variety. Pass the mind bleach, please.
You have been warned.
The narration was, of course,by St. Sean Barrett, and was his usual hypnotic performance.
I haven't read the print version of Merivel but I read the print version of Restoration which I didn't enjoy as much.
I guess it has to be Merivel with all his flaws but the house is very important..
Fantastic performance as always. He gets the tone just right.
I laughed and cried in turns and then howled at the ending and desperately wanted more. Why not a dynastic sequence?, We have two novels let's have more about the generations to come
My favourite Rose Tremain after "The way I Found Her"
"A Man of All Times, I say!"
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.
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