Restoration and late 17th century

There will be some overlap here with books listed in the English Civil Wars section, but this page features books which deal mainly with the Restoration period (beginning in 1660) and the reigns of Charles II, James II and William III.

Restoration

Restoration by Rose Tremain

The story of Robert Merivel, a physician who is appointed surgeon to the king’s spaniels at the recently restored court of Charles II. After marrying one of the king’s mistresses, Merivel falls out of favour with Charles after committing the terrible sin of falling in love with his wife.

merivel

Merivel: A Man of His Time by Rose Tremain

The sequel to Restoration, above, rejoins Robert Merivel several years later as he travels from France to Switzerland and back to England again. The passing of time is a major theme in this poignant but humorous novel which brings Merivel’s story to an end.

God and the Wedding Dress

God and the Wedding Dress by Marjorie Bowen

This fascinating novel set in 1665/66 tells the story of Eyam, a village in the Peak District, and the sacrifices made by the people who lived there when the plague arrived courtesy of a wedding dress delivered from London.

The Ashes of London

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

The first in a new series of historical mysteries, this novel is set during the Great Fire of London in 1666. Not only do we witness the destruction of a city by fire, we also learn about the fate of the regicides responsible for the execution of Charles I, and the plots of the Fifth Monarchists to overthrow their king.

Lorna Doone

Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore

This classic novel was written in the 19th century, but set towards the end of the 17th. While the central romance between Lorna Doone and the Yeoman farmer, John Ridd, forms the major part of the plot, there’s also an interesting historical background – the final years of the reign of Charles II, the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 and the Bloody Assizes are all covered.

Plague

Plague by C.C. Humphreys

An action-packed historical mystery set in Restoration London and with an intriguing set of characters including a highwayman, a thief-taker, and two actresses. The Fifth Monarchists have a role to play in this book too – and so, of course, does the plague.

Fire

Fire by C.C. Humphreys

This is a sequel to the book above. Set in 1666, before and during the Great Fire of London, this book features yet another plot by the Fifth Monarchists! Both of these C.C. Humphreys novels are entertaining, fast-paced reads.

Girl on the Golden Coin

Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson

A fictional account of the life of Frances Stuart, famous for refusing to become a mistress of Charles II and thought to be the model for Britannia on British coins. Set in Restoration London at Charles II’s court, this book had a lot of potential but I found it too light and too focused on romance for my tastes.

lady-on-the-coin

Lady on the Coin by Margaret Campbell Barnes

This is an older novel than the Marci Jefferson one above and offers a different take on Frances Stuart’s story. I thought this was a much better book – however, it was the tale of Frances’ romance with the Duke of Richmond and Lennox that interested me more than her relationship with the King.

alathea

Alathea by Pamela Belle

This is the third novel in Pamela Belle’s Heron series, following The Moon in the Water and The Chains of Fate.  Set just after the Restoration of Charles II, this book follows the story of Alathea Heron who goes to London to establish herself as a portrait painter and gets to know John Wilmot, the notorious Earl of Rochester.

Quicksilver

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

This is the first of a trilogy known as The Baroque Cycle. With over 900 pages, it’s a very long book and I didn’t personally find it to be worth the time and effort, but I know plenty of other people disagree! If you have the patience, you will learn a huge amount about 17th century science, religion and politics.

Mariana

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

A haunting, atmospheric story of a woman whose life becomes mysteriously linked with that of Mariana Farr, who lived in the 1600s. This is a novel with a dual timeline but the transitions were so smooth I hardly noticed when we moved from one period to the other!

Wilding

The Wilding by Maria McCann

An entertaining novel set in a small rural community in 17th century England. There are lots of plot twists and revelations – but be prepared to learn more than you could ever need to know about cider-making and types of apples!

Non-Fiction

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin

A comprehensive and well-written biography of Samuel Pepys, who was most famous for the diaries he kept during the 17th century. I haven’t read the diaries but did very much enjoy this book.

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was the commander of the Royalist cavalry during the Civil War – however, this fascinating biography looks at Rupert’s entire life and his many accomplishments, not just his career during the war years.

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