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Merivel: A Man of His Time

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Published by Chatto & Windus, part of Vintage Publishing

Format: Hardback


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EAN: 9780701185206
Published: 6 Sep 2012


About the book


As heard on 'Book at Bedtime', BBC Radio 4

The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone. Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to Charles II, loved for his gift to turn sorrow into laughter, now faces the agitations and 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 – all glitter in front and squalor behind – leaves Merivel in despair, until a chance encounter with Madame de Flamanville, a seductive Swiss botanist, allows him to dream of an honourable future.

But will that future ever be his? Back home at Bidnold Manor, his loyalty and medical skill are tested to their limits, while the captive bear he has brought back from France begins to cause unexpected havoc in his heart and on his estate.

With a cascade of lace at his neck and a laugh that can burst out of him in the midst of torment, Merivel is a uniquely brilliant creation, soulful, funny, outrageous and achingly sad. He is Everyman. His unmistakable, self-mocking voice speaks directly to us down the centuries.

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What the critics say

Social, political and physical labyrinth
- Evening Standard

Satisfying... agreeably sardonic
- Daily Mail

Robert Merivel is one of the great imaginative creations in English literature of the past 50 years
- Telegraph Magazine

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
- Sunday Express

A tour de force of literary technique, a treasure house of diligent research and imaginative ingenuity
- Telegraph

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
- Mail 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
- The Times

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
- Intelligent Life

Tremain writes beautifully about Reniassance England but it’s the glittering paradoxes of Merivel’s character that here leap fully formed from the page
- Metro

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
- Daily Mail

Merivel offers a rich and satisfying sequel to the bright beginning of Restoration
- Sunday Times

Merivel is set in 1683-85 when the English novel was barely in its infancy. Tremain relishes the freedom allowed by the Defoe-like, picaresque form…her feeling for the spirit of the times is triumphant
- Spectator

More interesting than all the period decoration is the character of Merivel, a character whom the author has such deep knowledge of. Tremain’s fusion of an engrossing character and the minutiae of another time is a marvel
- Daily Telegraph

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. There is only to add that, despite the linear storytelling imposed on a journal, she not only effortlessly sustains momentum and mood, but brings the novel to as near a perfect ending as one could wish
- Herald

Tremain is particularly good at exploring the nuances of life for the hapless Merivel so that reader empathises with his sense of loneliness and despair. As well as exploring the sensitive side of Merivel’s character we share his intimate thoughts which are often very funny. A beautiful book
- We Love This Book

Her characters laugh, cry, plot and flounder so convincingly that they take up residence in your head and refuse to go away
- Scotland on Sunday

Sequels rarely live up to their predecessors but this one comes close
- Daily Express

A delight
- Literary Review

A rich, glowing portrait of an individual
- Observer

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

Steps inside the mind of Sir Robert Merivel
- Sunday Business Post

An unadulterated delight…every bit the 17th-century romp that its predecessor was; rambunctious, funny and tender, with perhaps the added quality of age-worn wisdom – both of its author and protagonist – to add to all the cavorting misadventure
- Independent

For a second time this is one to cherish
- Independent

Witty, bawdy, godless, tender, Tremain’s roguish 17th c physician returns for a sort-of sequel to her much loved novel, Restoration. This second dose delights, engrosses – and moves – as much as before
- Independent, i

The most enjoyable novel...a wonderfully entertaining sequel
- Guardian

This is a book about forcing jollity in the face of the transience of life
- Financial Times

A great pleasure this year to renew acquaintance with Robert Merivel, Rose Tremain’s engagingly roguish physician at the court of Charles II
- Tablet

[Tremain] has described writing Merivel: A Man of His Time as like meeting a dearly beloved friend not seen for years, and that is exactly as it strikes her readers. A marvelous thing on the page
- The Oldie

About the Author

Rose Tremain’s bestselling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music and Silence), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country). Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in1989 and made into a film in 1995. Her short story, ‘Moth’, was also filmed (as the award-winning Ricky) by François Ozon in 2009. Her most recent novel, Trespass, was a Richard and Judy Bookclub Choice. Rose Tremain was made a CBE in 2007.She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer, Richard Holmes.

Rose Tremain

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