Orsolya's Reviews > Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration

Royal Charles by Antonia Fraser
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bookshelves: charles-ii, history, library, stuart-england

King Charles II may be the most “high and low” monarch in England’s history. Meaning, he suffered terribly with the beheading of his father, Civil War, exile, and the Great Fire. On the upside, he was restored and enjoyed courtly pleasures and mistresses. Antonia Fraser illuminates this ‘Merry Monarch’ in, “Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration”.

In traditional Fraser style, “Royal Charles” begins on a slow note in respect to the text featuring the surrounding atmosphere of Charles’s youth and hi s father Charles I versus a direct look at the future King. Many readers may even be enticed to skim these chapters until Part II (p. 81) if wanting to focus on Charles more in-depth. At this point, Charles comes to life and is much more in the foreground.

Fraser is the ‘Queen of Detail’ which is both a positive and a hindrance. The research is impeccable and astonishing when taken into consideration that “Royal Charles” was written before the ease of modern research. Yet, as in all of her works, Fraser strays from the main point often and tries to present the reader with every tidbit of information, ever. “Royal Charles” could have used a better editor to streamline the text.

Although “Royal Charles” is quite scholarly; there is an easy accessibility to the reading allowing for a steady pace. Fraser also avoids an over access of biases cluttering the text (although some personal opinions and overly descriptive/literary text is present).

“Royal Charles” is plumped up by some facts not mentioned elsewhere and the methodological debunking of myths displaying Fraser’s detective work and consequentially making “Royal Charles” more than just a rehashing of the history of Charles II. Although, the text could have used more of this stylized perspective.

A noticeable pattern in “Royal Charles” is Fraser’s penchant to follow a choppy discourse of discussing Stuart politics, into waxing poetic on Charles’s psyche, and then discussing household account books. Again, it seems that Fraser wanted to mention every bit of research that she herself discovered and didn’t know how to clear the viewfinder for the reader. This results in reader distraction and many slower moments within the text.

In the final chapters of “Royal Charles”, Fraser heartily and successfully concludes with solid information regarding the aftermath, lineage, and political events occurring during the last moments of Charles’s life. Particularly, the chapter describing the death of Charles is riveting, historically accurate, and tugs at the heart strings even as a nonfiction piece. The text then wraps up with Fraser mewing at Charles in a eulogy-type essay. Readers only interested in the pure history can skip this final chapter; however, it does provide a conclusive wrap-up.

Fraser includes a list of references and reference books while also infusing “Royal Charles” with two sections of photo plates.

“Royal Charles” is a very thoroughly researched and scholarly look at the reign of Charles II presented in typical Fraser style. The issue thereupon is merely that it is too much of a macro-view of Stuart politics and doesn’t truly bring Charles to light. The test is well-written but it simply doesn’t serve as a proper biography or portrait of this interesting Monarch. Despite this, “Royal Charles” is suggested for those readers interested in Charles II and Stuart England who must read everything about him because, sadly, there aren’t that many books out there.

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Reading Progress

May 24, 2012 – Shelved
May 24, 2012 – Shelved as: charles-ii
May 24, 2012 – Shelved as: history
May 24, 2012 – Shelved as: library
May 24, 2012 – Shelved as: stuart-england
January 15, 2016 – Started Reading
January 15, 2016 –
page 272
51.91% (Paperback Edition)
January 15, 2016 –
page 272
January 17, 2016 –
page 435
January 17, 2016 – Finished Reading

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