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Restoration (Restoration #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,430 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
When a twist of fate delivers an ambitious young medical student to the court of King Charles II, he is suddenly thrust into a vibrant world of luxury and opulence. Blessed with a quick wit and sparkling charm, Robert Merivel rises quickly, soon finding favour with the King, and privileged with a position as 'paper groom' to the youngest of the King's mistresses. But by fa ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 2nd 2009 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
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
Dec 06, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-novels
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.
Andrea Zuvich
Sep 07, 2015 Andrea Zuvich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremain’s book is written in first-person, which doesn’t usually work for me, but I really enjoyed this. The book follows the misadventures of Robert Merivel, who is really immature and even a little thick at times, despite being a rather gifted physician. In his pursuit of pleasures, finery, and a courtier lifestyle at Whitehall, he loses sight (if indeed he ever had it) of the important things in life. Merivel is, at the beginning of the story (and indeed in several episodes throughout), a ver ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
First paragraph:
Look at me. Without my periwig, I am an affront to neatness. My hair (what is left of it) is the colour of sand and wiry as hogs' bristles; my ears are of uneven size; my forehead is splattered with freckles; my nose, which of course my wig can't conceal, however low I wear it, is unceremoniously flat, as if I had been hit at birth.
And I knew I was going to like this.

The prose tends to be quite formal. Tremain has written this in such a way to help the reader feel with the times
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
Apr 24, 2008 Katewesterholt rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Oct 12, 2009 Fiona rated it really liked it
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
A cynical view of Charles II era told by an anatomy student, after the civil war and Cromwell government.
Dec 25, 2012 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
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
The first half of this book read like an MTV music video version of the 17th century: gaudy clothes, binge drinking, general debauchery. I was disappointed by the superciliousness of Tremain's portrait of her protagonist, Merivel. He was too much of a caricature to be sympathetic or even amusing. But I'd passed the point of no return, it's a slim book, and I retained enough faith in Rose Tremain's tremendous abilities to carry on. I'm so glad I stuck to the task, as Part 2 redeemed the book, par ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
May 18, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I liked the beginning best. It was funny and engaging. The obvious feature of the character is his insatiable love of women. As the book is in first person, he is constantly talking about it. Some is a little disturbing and some is very funny.
One of his favorite paramours calls her parts The Thing and that gets a fair amount of repetition in various ways.
Strangely, none of it put me off, I found it a well told and amusing story.
The book is split into 3 volumes and the second and third ones, whi
Amy Nielsen
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
Feb 19, 2013 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.)

Sally Richards
Aug 04, 2014 Sally Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 31, 2014 Rachael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
About time I finished it! Well crafted and interesting story, but I found the main character highly irritating, so it took me a bit longer to finish this than it should have.
Simone Ramone
Feb 09, 2015 Simone Ramone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Garbled and boring. Which idiot nominated it for what? They owe me 2 days of reading time.
Dec 30, 2012 Kiwiflora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sues57 Schroeder
Feb 24, 2013 Sues57 Schroeder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jan 18, 2016 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen Pine
Oct 11, 2012 Karen Pine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Angela Young
Sep 02, 2012 Angela Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Feb 04, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 23, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Jul 14, 2012 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2015 Bella rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Seems more to me that it's about the damage of falling in love with the wrong person, rather than the dangers of excess, but I'm not enjoying it at all and have missed big chunks out of it (skipped from roughly pg 50 to 100, read a couple of chapters then skipped several more then did that again) so it's fair to say that I may be wrong. It's the first book I can recall that I've skipped pages of (other than to avoid a violent scene or similar) but I feel guilty for missing several book club book ...more
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Play Book Tag: Restoration by Rose Tremain - 4 stars 4 11 May 01, 2016 04:01PM  
House of Stuart: Restoration (1995) 1 4 Sep 20, 2015 03:11PM  
DC Public Library: April 5-12: Restoration and Merivel by Rose Tremain 2 22 Apr 12, 2013 09:53AM  
  • The Vizard Mask
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  • Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s
  • The Ruby in Her Navel
  • Chatterton
  • Every Man for Himself
  • Within the Fetterlock
  • Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration
  • The Winter Queen (Astraea, #1)
  • A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
  • Ulverton
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  • A Five Year Sentence
  • The Children of Dynmouth
  • Toby's Room (Life Class, #2)
  • The Underground Man
  • Treason
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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger. Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.
More about Rose Tremain...

Other Books in the Series

Restoration (2 books)
  • Merivel: A Man of His Time

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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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