Restoration on a number of levels

Book cover imageI picked up Restoration with some trepidation as the cover looks serious and historical fiction can be a bit on the sombre side. Let’s face it, no one wants gloomy at present. However, from page one this book gripped me and led me on a merry romp through the reign of King Charles II seen through the eyes of pleasure-seeking Robert Merivil. This book was made into a movie and I can see actor Robert Downey Jnr reveling in this role.

England in the 1660s was a time for seizing opportunity and moving heaven and earth to gain favour at the wealthy Royal Court. Chance and determination brought commoners into the royal circle (not unlike today if you think about the fortunes of Kate Middleton). Robert’s charm makes him a favourite of the King but his fortunes rise and fall as he battles his personal demons. Author Rose Tremain uses his trials to vividly contrast the opulence of the Court with the abject poverty of those living on the fringes of society.

The people of the time lived under constant threat of plague. The death toll from these outbreaks was often in the thousands. In 1666 the Great Fire of London destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants. Life was unpredictable but Robert Merivil finds the courage to carry on in spite of it all. Kind of reassuring really. Have you enjoyed any historical fiction lately?

A fictional feast for a nervous disposition

CoverI have been reading a lot of dross lately – nothing has engaged me. This may be from my poor book selection or it could be the fact that I have been walking around like one large human nerve ending!

Then I found a book that turned the tide.A book that had me staying up late even on a “school night” –  Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s menagerie.

She took me through the slums of London to the whaling ships  of old, with Jaffy, a young street urchin, sent on an expedition to catch a “dragon” on behalf of Mr Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals.

What a great read – once this blog is complete I shall be putting holds on all her other books, as my reading drought has been broken. Have you found any surprisingly good titles recently?