LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

Restoration: 1666, a Year in Britain

by Alexander Larman.

Restoration details the day-to-day, the politics, culture, and dangers of English life in the mid 1660s.

Charles II has retaken his father’s throne after 12 gruelling years of Cromwellian rule. His lavish lifestyle delights many (after the strictures of the commonwealth), but embitters others as they struggle for survival in an increasingly bankrupt country.

Quoting copiously from the ever-fascinating Pepys (and his contemporaries), Larman explores the whole scope of society, and its habits, in this refreshing overview of 17th-century England. He covers a diverse range of subjects (including foreign affairs, fashion, and religion), as well as the more obvious plague outbreaks and the great fire of London. For what could have been the dullest of subjects, his writing style is accessible, and although I found it a bit repetitive in places, it was an easy read.

Restoration offers a lovely introduction to the period, and is sure to whet the appetite of many.


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