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Restoration (Restoration #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,296 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Robert Merivel is a dissolute young medical student when an accident of fate leads him to the attention of King Charles II. Finding favour with the King, Merivel embarks on the time of his life, enthusiastically enjoying the luxury, women and wine of the vibrant royal court, until he is called upon to serve his monarch in an unusual role. However, when he fails at the one...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published April 23rd 1990 by Viking Books (first published 1989)
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Willow
I found this book quite intriguing. The character of Robert Merivel is sympathetic and does a believable character arc, changing from a shallow person into a thoughtful physician.

Tremain does a great job with her historical research, creating a nuanced seventeenh century world. My favorite parts are Merivel’s medical challenges and discoveries. One of my pet peeves in historical fiction is that the hero/heroine is far more medically advanced than they should be, like for instance knowing all ab...more
Paul
A really enjoyable Restoration farce with a great deal of heart. Robert Merivel is a would be physician and son of a glove-maker to the king. He lives for pleasure and is something of a rake and does not take his medical studies too seriously. He comes to the attention of the king and for a while he is part of the court and plays the fool. The king decides to marry him to one of his mistresses. This involves going to live on an estate in the country and much partying and debauchery ensued.
Merive...more
Jan-Maat
I have the same problem and pleasures with this historical novel set during the reign of Charles II as I do with the author's Music and Silence.

At once pleasingly rich but with annoying inaccuracies like the Quaker studying at an English university (Anglicans only back then). That grated on me at one time. A less irritable reader however might be moved to accept that this is less a historical novel and more a fantastical novel, with a dreamlike atmosphere in places.

The hero lives in a world of i...more
Orsolya
You may be familiar with the Restoration and Charles II. Or maybe not. Regardless, Rose Tremain gives this historical period double-meaning in her novel, “Restoration”.

“Restoration” is a novel which can’t be ignored as it is simply “alive” with sounds, emotions, and colors immediately jumping from Tremain’s pages the second the reader opens the book. Saying that “Restoration” has a heartbeat is putting it mildly. This lively novel is supplemented by the main character of Robert Merivel who has...more
Katewesterholt
Apr 24, 2008 Katewesterholt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my sister
This is one of my favourite books of all time. The main character, Merivel, is a person ahead of his time in nearly everything he attempts. When he decides to paint, it is in a Fauvist style - in the 1660's. He winds up in trouble and much misunderstood, and his inherent selfishness and immaturity don't help...until he figures out ways towards a personal Restoration. The first time I read this, I cried I was so moved by the way he transforms. A very hopeful read.
Fiona
This is my second book by Tremain, my first being Music and Silence and I have enjoyed both. I like her as an author and I think it is so nice to find an author whom you know you will enjoy whenever you read one of their books. There's something very comforting about this.

In both her historical novels - they feel as if they are written in another plain - in some strange kind of dreamland almost. Her style is unique and quirky and very easily draws you inwards.

You cannot help but like Robert Me...more
Laura
A cynical view of Charles II era told by an anatomy student, after the civil war and Cromwell government.
Barb
I can never figure out just what it means or what I should expect when reading a book that is either a Pulitzer or Booker winner or nomination. I think it's going to mean that I will just love it because it is so fabulous, but somehow that doesn't seem to be the way it turns out for me and this book is no exception.

'Restoration' starts out well enough, with Robert Merivel falling into favor with King Charles II. Merivel is a wild, lascivious, gluttonous young man fully enjoying the excesses of...more
Brian
Restoration is the story of Robert Merrivel, the son of James the second's glove-maker and a man very much of his age, dedicated, as the book opens, to little more than pleasure and idleness but doomed to experience a series of triumphs and disasters that will develop in him a greater understanding of both himself and society he inhabits.

Rose Tremain presents an impressive pageant of Restoration life from the court of James the Second to the inside of an insane asylum run by Quakers, from the be...more
Amy Nielsen (is going cerebral for 2014)
This is delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not my typical pick nonetheless, quite an unexpected surprise. This was one of my audiobooks so the narrator that was chosen was excellent. He was probably the sole reason that Marivel's time at Bitnel Manor (sp is probably wrong due to only hearing the names) was so entertaining. He had a sort of Henry Higgins humor which I personally find hilarious. Looking back, I believe that was the author's intention, to make Marivel seem foolish and sill...more
Brittany
Technically, this was a very good book. It was very well-written and objectively, you'd have to give it a good review. Which I am. I'm giving it four stars because that's what it strictly deserves.

However, I'm torn. While it was technically well-executed, it left me feeling a bit hollow. I don't know if it was because of all the gratuitous sex or the fairly hollow lives of everyone involved. (But people sometimes do have hollow lives! So I shouldn't dock a book for accurately depicting that.)

I'm...more
Booknblues
Restoration
by Rose Tremain
5 stars
pp. 371

England is ready to indulge in a healthy dose of hedonism after loosening the bonds of Puritanism installed by Cromwell. Charles II the new king is an advertisement for hedonism with his long locks, flamboyant clothing and some healthy number of mistresses and illegitimate children. Robert Merivel the protagonist of Rose Tremain's The Reformation is perhaps one of its most enthusiastic adherents. He reminds me of Tom Jones, but quite different and looks th...more
Kiwiflora
This very fine novel was first published in 1989. Writing some twenty years later about this book, the author states that this story was her 'fictional response to the climate of selfishness and material greed that began to prevail in our society during the Thatcher years, from which we have never recovered and for which we are now beginning to pay a terrifying price'. Four years on from making this statement of course, society is no better off. Which ensures that a story such as as this has as...more
Elaine
Truly delightful. This is the third Tremain I've read (The Road Home, Trespass) and each is completely different but the one constant is really good, felicitous writing -- the kind that makes you look forward to getting back to your book, and staying up too late to read a few more pages. In Restoration, Tremain takes on historical fiction -- the Great Fire of London, the plague, and the sensual court of Charles II-- with a wry tone, great attention to atmosphere and no sentimentality.

Another gr...more
Karen Pine
A tragi-comic male central character, Robert Merivel and his life in 16th Century England. If Feathers was like King Lear, then Merivel is the Fool. Indeed he fulfilled that role for the King at the time, Charles, who exploited Merivel’s sycophantic feelings towards him to his own ends. The worst of these was making Merivel marry his mistress, thus ensuring no-one else could steal her away from the King, who felt safe in the knowledge Merivel had no chance of becoming his love rival. Merivel, a...more
Sues57 Schroeder
I read "Restoration" on the recommendation of another goodreads member (Hi Alex), after telling him that I didn't much like "historical fiction." I was assured that I would indeed like Rose Tremain's "Restoration" in spite of my general dislike of the genre. And the recommendation proved true; "Restoration" was a truly enjoyable work, far beyond what I expected.

"Restoration" is set in the latter half of the 17th. century, and is narrated by Robert Merivel, who, throughout the course of the book,...more
Angela Young
There is the most touching moving section in this book that I don't think I'll ever forget. It was the clue to Speaking of Love http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33... and the most poignant (and simple) analysis of the human origins of madness that I've read. The protagonist, Merivel, has become a Quaker and works at an asylum. Without knowing he's going to break his silence at the Meetings, he does. He says, while at the same time trying to stop himself from speaking, that, 'Madness may be bor...more
Johanna
The first thing that struck me about this book is how well written it is. The way Tremain manipulates the English language to tell Robert Merivel’s story is a pleasure to behold and easily engrosses the reader. Restoration is a beautifully writing and intelligently crafted story.

After finishing this story I felt like I had embarked upon an epic journey through 15th century England and its eccentric society. When we first meet Robert Merivel, he is a somewhat lazy medical student, who falls into...more
Julie
I rarely read two books by the same author consecutively, but in this case I found myself unable to resist another of Rose Tremain's, particularly because its subject matter is so different from that in The Road Home. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing was sound, and the main character was, well, quite a character. As in The Road Home, this character was flawed, to say the least, but still terribly sympathetic, and his life proceeded in an unpredictable way. I learned a little something...more
Jane
I happened upon Restoration whilst browsing around my mother's retirement village library and because I've read a couple of Rose Tremain's books, asked mum to borrow it for me. What a fantastic book!

Restoration allows us a glimpse into the 1660s during the time of King Charles II's restoration to the throne after the republican rule of England led by Oliver Cromwell. It was a time of great excess and when we first meet the protagonist, Merivel he is beside himself with happiness after being tak...more
Lynne
Robert Merivel is a profligate young man and quintessential silly ass. When he captures the attention and friendship of Charles II he finds himself in possession of wealth and position beyond his wildest imaginings. However, along with this come certain responsibilities and when he oversteps the boundaries, his fall from grace is rapid and extreme.

To use the first person to tell a story has its limitations, but in this context it's a perfect tool to convey the growing awareness and development o...more
Andrew O'byrne
One of Rose Tremain's earlier novels,set in the 1660s,and culminating in scenes around the Great Fire of London of September 1666.A satisfying blend of fact & speculation,which takes few liberties with reality,& encapsulates in the rise & fall & rise again of surgeon Robert Merivel,friend & confidante of the king himself,the Merry Monarch,Charles II.A cast of well-drawn characters & some meaty discourses on the nature of worldly success,the treatment of the mentally disturbed,&...more
Jeremy Neal
Very engaging, and a thoroughly odd central character, a man with almost zero masculine traits whose journey is by parts calamitous, hilarious and tragic. At first I found Merivel to be somehow unwholesome, but eventually, his humanity wins through. He is entirely Venusian, with a liberal sprinkling of Jove and struggle to contend with the Saturnine elements of his life, until he is left with no other option. It seems an apt cautionary tale for us all, and in the end his big-heartedness redeems...more
Mady
Sep 04, 2014 Mady marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Give up, I just can't force myself to read this one. Too many books, too little time :(
Jasmin Kirkbride
Like many of the best books, Restoration was an accidental find. It appeared on my desk with a remark from my mother that I had better read something by Rose Tremain before we went to see her in interview as part of the Norwich Hostry Festival. It was, I hasten to add, a very happy accident: she is a really fabulous writer, and I have since read two collections of her short stories and am partway through the sequel to Restoration, Merivel: A Man of his Times.

Restoration is a historical novel, se...more
Dottie
Delightful as always. Tremain is one of my favorite writers. I discovered her about maybe half a dozen years ago and read all of her books which the Provincial Bibliotheek had on the shelves in the English language section and bought others. I loved the details which gave the reader bits of factual information embedded in a lively romp of a story! One of those types of books which goes down smoothly and quickly and leaves the reader looking forward to the next encounter with the author.
Joe
Rose Tremain’s Restoration is the story of Robert Merivel, a physician living in 17th century England. The book chronicles Merivel’s fortunes as they rise and fall (and rise again) during the reign on King Charles II. I really enjoyed the book because I thought Tremain’s Robert Merivel was one of the most believably human characters I’ve ever come across, brimming with contradictions. He’s a man who is ruled by his appetite for debauchery, yet strives to make his life mean something. He is capab...more
Pamela
I like historical novels, but this one was pretty loosely based on the era of Charles II. The idea of self discovery and finding purpose in life was too too today. The ending was also pretty flat. The prose reads beautifully but as a whole, the book was pretty ho-hum.
Sally Richards
A rollicking tale of a rogue. Tremaine paints the 17th century scene with skill and draws the characters well. Her comparison to Thatcher's Britain in her introduction gave the story an interesting touch. Looking forward to reading the sequel.
Rebecca Huston
A fairly good book about Restoration England, about a ne'er-do-well doctor and his redemption through the king's court, a young madwoman, the Plague and the fire of London. Good read, but the movie is even better.
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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & 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 in 1989 and made into a film in 1995. She lives in Norfolk a...more
More about Rose Tremain...
The Road Home The Colour Music and Silence Trespass The Way I Found Her

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“She would, on the birthday of Christ, allow herself what she called "an extra helping of prayer." At the time of the Civil War, she would pray for peace. Always, she asked God to spare me and my father. But at Christmas, she talked to God as if He were Clerk of the Acts in the Office of Public Works. She prayed for cleaner air in London. She prayed that our chimneys would not fall over in the January winds; she prayed that our neighbour, Mister Simkins, would attend to his cesspit, so that it would cease its overflow into ours. She prayed that Amos Treefeller would not slip and drown "going down the public steps to the river at Blackfriars, which are much neglected and covered in slime, Lord." And she prayed, of course, that plague would not come.
As a child, she allowed me to ask God to grant me things for which my heart longed. I would reply that my heart longed for a pair of skates made of bone or for a kitten from Siam. And we would sit by the fire, the two of us, praying. And then we would eat a lardy cake, which my mother had baked herself, and ever since that time the taste of lardy cake has had about it the taste of prayer.”
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