Merivel: A Man of His Time

Rose Tremain, Author
Rose Tremain. Norton, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-07957-9
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-1-4712-3962-5
Paperback - 373 pages - 978-0-393-34893-4
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7011-8520-6
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7011-8521-3
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4481-3858-6
Paperback - 341 pages - 978-0-09-954843-0
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-393-24028-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-62064-962-6
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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.)
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