Oh what a lovely book, why on earth have I not read it before? I’ve read and loved Music and Silence years ago and then The Colour a few years back when it came out in paperback. It’s only when I read reviews for Tremain’s new book, Merivel: A Man of his Time about a late seventeenth century physician that I realised this was a sequel to Restoration. Am so ignorant sometimes, Charles II and Restoration period is one of my favourites because I have a soft spot for Robert Hooke, Pepys, Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, the founding of the Royal Society. Not that any of this features in Restoration but I do love reading about that period. So much so that when Merivel describes the heat and the plague of summer 1665, I thought I remember this! Like I was there… Anyway, this is a wonderful book and Merivel is a brilliant character. The book is funny, clever, beautifully written and researched and very human. What I particularly loved is that somewhere, just before the half way point I suddenly stopped enjoying the book and left it for a week or so, thinking I might not even finish it. Then I went back to it and of course, within 10-20 pages I was totally gripped again. So much so that I then finished the book in one go. That is mastery, I thought, you have this character who is amusing and sort of loveable but also quite ambiguous, then he reaches a low point (this is where I stopped enjoying the book) and then he develops. The story is told with great style and set in one of the best periods. Now, of course, I want to immediately read Merivel, the sequel too. This does not bode well for my ‘pile of shame’ of books, which increased quite a bit with Christmas presents although thankfully, the sequel is not yet out in paperback.