From the author of The Gustav Sonata
The wonderful new historical novel set in seventeenth-century England from Rose Tremain, author of Restoration (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Road Home (winner of the Orange Prize) and Trespass (a Richard & Judy pick). Merivel has been called ‘wonderfully entertaining’ (Guardian Books of the Year) and ‘an unadulterated delight’ (Independent) and has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone and Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to King Charles II, sets off for the French court in search of a fresh start. But royal life at the Palace of Versailles – all glitter in front and squalor behind – leaves him in despair, until a chance encounter with the seductive Madame de Flamanville, allows him to dream of a different future.
But will that future ever be his? Summoned home urgently to attend to the ailing King, Merivel finds his loyalty and skill tested to their limits.
Over a million Rose Tremain books sold
‘A writer of exceptional talent ... Tremain is a writer who understands every emotion’ Independent I
‘There are few writers out there with the dexterity or emotional intelligence to rival that of the great Rose Tremain’ Irish Times
‘Tremain has the painterly genius of an Old Master, and she uses it to stunning effect’ The Times
‘Rose Tremain is one of the very finest British novelists’ Salman Rushdie
‘Tremain is a writer of exemplary vision and particularity. The fictional world is rendered with extraordinary vividness’ Marcel Theroux, Guardian
Set in 1683, 15 years after the end of Tremain s Restoration, this sequel finds sometime doctor, sometime court jester Robert Merivel restless despite his comfortable county estate in England. Merivel travels to Versailles looking for joie de vivre, encountering instead a cliquish court, shabby accommodations, and an ill-treated pet bear. Merivel sends the bear back to England before returning himself to attend to his ailing daughter, Margaret. Though she recovers and the prospect of a new romance, with a gay Swiss Guard s beautiful, neglected wife, Louise de Flamanville, arises in the meantime Merivel remains weary, disappointed, and haunted by memories, his malaise mirroring that of King Charles II, whose reign is ending with England beset by poverty and unrest. As before, Tremain contrasts beauty and coarseness, melancholy and slapstick, tenderness and pageantry. Wonderfully rich scenes light up the meandering narrative: the King s mistress in retreat; the bear on the loose; Merivel walking the royal dogs. If something seems lacking, that may only be in comparison with the first novel s unflagging inventiveness and its film adaptation s unrestrained opulence, and from Tremain s focus on the Restoration s sadder, waning days, with both Merivel and Charles realizing how short of their former promise their lives have fallen.
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Ah, Merivel. Twenty years you've been away. I was worth the wait.