Thursday, 24 January 2013

Merivel: A Man of His Time by Rose Tremain

Tremain’s first novel featuring Merivel, set in the heady days of the Restoration, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1989 and made into a film in 1995. Here she creates a portrait of the larger-than-life character charting a course through his late middle age, asking the eternal questions that arise unbidden when the weight of one’s past and one’s future seem to be stretched equally across the consciousness. 

Never having been one for temperance, Merivel reflects on the way he has chosen to grab life’s pleasures and live for the moment. I can see the temptation for Tremain to revisit this character at such a stage. Does he now regret the choices he made? Will the lessons he has learnt from the past help him to finally create the sense of well-being, meaning, and purpose he has always craved? Can he turn his back upon the glittering allure of monarchy and material wealth for something more enrichening?

Although plot action drives the story onward, there is a much stronger sense of meditating on the imperfection of life, of ourselves, and of the life we are left living once the fervour and energy of youth has faded. Merivel is an unforgettable character and despite having read the first novel years ago, it was like meeting an old friend - however, I do think this book can stand-alone quite well. With his knack of blundering into mishap and confusion, Merivel can still fill a novel and, while the ending may not please everyone, I found it a fitting conclusion to the themes developed in the book.
Posted by Spot

About the Author

Rose Tremain is not your average historical fiction writer - in fact, she hates being called that as many of her novels are contemporary.  Read her interview with The Telegraph  

Check our Catalogue and reserve online                       
Merivel:  A Man of His Time by Rose Tremain,  2012

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