Book review: Merivel, By Rose Tremain


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The Independent Culture

Robert Merivel, court physician to Charles II, first made his appearance in Tremain's 1989 novel Restoration.

Now aged 56, the hapless medic leaves Norfolk to pursue his rakish ways at the court of Louis XIV. A character always willing to trade his dignity for fame and fortune, even the optimistic Merivel is aware that his powers are on the wane.

At one point he tells his old mistress: "We are all dying, Violet." Fresh from Charles II's bed, she replies: "But now that I have been fucked by the king, I can die happy. Is this not so?" A Pepysian romp of the first order.