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 ...
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 unlooked-for 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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Publishers Weekly, 2013-03-04 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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