Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Restoration” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Restoration (Restoration #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,739 ratings  ·  245 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Restoration, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Restoration

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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.
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
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
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 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.
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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.
Glenda Pogorelsky
Rose Tremain is one of my favourite authors and this was such an enjoyable read about a debauched and amoral rogue - also with medical talent that is much in demand - in a time when such attributes fitted in well in the fun-loving Restoration period under Kings Charles II. His world comes falling down when he makes the fatal mistake of falling for one of the King's mistresses and is banished from Court in disgrace. What follows is a hard but valuable lesson as he turns his life around from carel ...more
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
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
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
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
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,
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 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
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
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
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
My first Rose Tremain. Simon of The Readers loves this author so I decided to try her. I was describing the plot to one of my friends who is a movie buff and she said "that's a movie!" Apparently, there is a film starring Robert Downey Jr that I now have to see when I finish the
I would give it a solid 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the narration and I like British historical fiction so this was a light and enjoyable read for me. It's interesting to see how far society has come from when every
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
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 distu ...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
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 :(
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Vizard Mask
  • Every Man for Himself
  • Chatterton
  • Shadows on Our Skin
  • The Children of Dynmouth
  • John Saturnall's Feast
  • The Perfect Royal Mistress
  • The Book and the Brotherhood
  • The Painted Lady
  • The Gate of Angels
  • Knowledge of Angels
  • A Five Year Sentence
  • London in Chains: An English Civil War Novel (English Civil War, #1)
  • Daughters Of The House
  • The Ruby in Her Navel
  • A Dead Man in Deptford
  • Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration
  • Within the Fetterlock
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...

Other Books in the Series

Restoration (2 books)
  • Merivel: A Man of His Time
The Road Home The Colour Music & Silence Trespass The Way I Found Her

Share This Book

“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.”
More quotes…