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(Restoration #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,674 ratings  ·  395 reviews
Robert Merivel, son of a glove maker and an aspiring physician, finds his fortunes transformed when he is given a position at the court of King Charles II. Merivel slips easily into a life of luxury and idleness, enthusiastically enjoying the women and wine of the vibrant Restoration age. But when hes called on to serve the king in an unusual role, he transgresses the one ...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published January 14th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 1989)
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Stephen Mc yes it will be at about their level.
And educational.

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  4,674 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Steeped in the voices and eccentricities of the age of Charles the second, Restoration: A Novel of Seventeenth-Century England is wonderful. I felt like I had been transported back in time to all the disagreeable muck and smells and ribaldry of the 1660s. At first I thought this was going to be a comic, slice of life rendition of a young man's (Robert Merivel) rise as a sycophant of the king. There is humour in this, yes, but also much sadness.

In part one it depicts the newly-made physician
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). These 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
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
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 Merivels 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
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 cant be ignored as it is simply alive with sounds, emotions, and colors immediately jumping from Tremains 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 disgusting
This is a story about Robert Merivel. At the beginning of the story he is an aspiring physician. The setting is Restoration England, this being when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were restored under the Stuart, King Charles II, in 1660. Merivel comes to be married to the king's mistress, but the hitch is that he may not bed her! He is certainly not to fall in love with her. Thats the deal made between the king and Merivel the fool. Merivel gets an attractive young wife, albeit just ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utterly charming, poignant and beautifully written

After the brilliance of 'The Gustav Sonata' (2016), 'Sacred Country' (1992) (which has rocketed into the list of my all time favourite books), 'The Darkness Of Wallis Simpson' (2005) which is a collection of her short stories, 'Restoration' (1989) was next up on my Rose Tremain-a-thon.

It's another winner - utterly charming. There are few writers more versatile than Rose Tremain. This enjoyable Restoration farce is - as always - brilliantly
Andrea Zuvich
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tremains book is written in first-person, which doesnt 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 very ...more
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
A cynical view of Charles II era told by an anatomy student, after the civil war and Cromwell government.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Julie Christine
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, ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh wow, this book really spoke to me. The flawed narrator, Merivel, was so very human, fallible and engaging. We follow him through the ups and downs of his life and of the real historical events of the early 1660s. There was such a consistency to the narrative voice, and such a lovely tone to this book, that I did not want it to end. Tremain did a brilliant job. Merivel is an amazing achievement.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tremain is a writer to envy. In Robert Merivel, she has realized one of the most wonderful characters I've ever read. The book, set in the first years of the Restoration, chronicles the adventures of a bawdy physician with a taste for the farcical who develops a passionate love for King Charles II. Throughout the story, it is this complicated, sometimes fractious love for this one 'Great Man' that propels Merivel forward on his path. However, King Charles, though portrayed with intelligence and ...more
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,
Rachel England-Brassy
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The idea that this story is based on is an allegory for Thatcher's Britain; the greed, self serving ambition and vanity are brilliantly displayed in this novel and Merival serves as a wonderful, flawed character within which to explore these ideas.
This is an excellent story and I highly recommend it.
The story is set in the England of 1665 and is told as a first person account by one Robert Merivel, who relates the events as they are happening, probably in the form of a personal journal. All the events take place over the course of approximately one year, and it's a year filled to the brim with events for Merivel in the England of the Restoration. Introduced by his father, a glovemaker to the King, Young Meviel, a student in medicine, meets Charles II for the first time and immediately falls ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Once again I read a little outside my comfort zone with an unlikeable character. In Restoration, we meet Robert Merivel who is a physician who meets King Charles II and his life changes. He becomes a man of that age- libidinous. Yet, Tremain is able to provide a complex man that can earn sympathy and yet frustrating man. In the end, I am able to understand his views and respect him. His character development is realistic. And through his eyes I learn more about England in the post civil war ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, series
Amusing and entertaining, reminding me of some of Charles Dickens' books. Very different from the other books by Rose Tremain I have read.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. It initially appears to be a frivolous romp of a story- and much of it is- but such heart and depth are revealed throughout. Engaging, entertaining, poignant at times- just marvellous.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Amy Nielsen
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Merivel is a young medical student in London in the early years of the reign of Charles II the glamorous merry monarch. By chance Merivel becomes an amusement to the king, and in time is chosen to be the husband (in name only) of Charless latest mistress. An estate in the country is his reward. Unfortunately he becomes smitten with his wife, which was not the idea at all, and this leads to a new and challenging chapter in his life.

Robert is a lovely character because he is so charmed by
Jan 01, 2013 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.)

Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A beautiful first half, magical prose and a great lead character. Sadly i started to drift in the second half and really struggled to finish it. It might have been me, I still rate Tremain very highly.
Sally Richards
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
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The Mookse and th...: 1989 Shortlist: Restoration 12 28 May 20, 2018 07:18AM  
Play Book Tag: Restoration by Rose Tremain - 4 stars 4 12 May 01, 2016 04:01PM  
House of Stuart: Restoration (1995) 1 7 Sep 20, 2015 03:11PM  
DC Public Library: April 5-12: Restoration and Merivel by Rose Tremain 2 22 Apr 12, 2013 09:53AM  

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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women's 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.

Other books in the series

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

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Twists, turns, and whodunits. We pride ourselves on recommending some great mysteries and thrillers here at the Goodreads office. So, we decided...
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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.”
“It is beyond my comprehension. Love has entered me like a disease, so stealthily I have not seen its approach nor heard its footsteps. My mind recognises the folly of it and yet I still boil and burn with it, precisely as with a fever.
To whom shall I turn to be cured? From his damp abitation, I hear Pearce make a Pearcean reply: he does not pause or hesitate before instructing, 'To yourself, Merivel'.”
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