Pepys Diary came to my attention many, many years ago when I first read Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road. I finally bought a copy a few years ago and have been dabbling in it between books ever since. It is an amazing read. So, when I saw a new-to-me historical fiction author had a book with his name in the title I decided to give it a try. One minor correction to my assumption: While this book serves perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, it is actually part of a series by the author who uses different people in the Diary as the main character.
When an evil step-mother intrudes on her lift, Bird, finds herself married off to an unpleasant man of lower rank who owns a livery stable. After a few miserable years of soaping saddles and working like made, Bird finally enters a company of players at a theater. Now that theaters are using women in women’s roles, perhaps she can develop a more satisfying life–and get more business for her husband’s stable?
Before she can get really going the plague hits London. Yes–THE plague–this was the 17th Century, after all. But, wait! There’s the discovery of the….limeskin! And, ….. [no spoilers]
What I Loved
Swift makes Pepys would come alive! The characters are so real. I felt so much for each of the women, especially, but also, in an odd way for Bird’s husband as his story was revealed. I had the same sense as I did reading Pepys actual diary that the Biblical adage, “There is nothing new under the sun,” is so very true–and that is what makes this book so good. It shows us real life with believable characters.
Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift
Elizabeth ‘Bird’ Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.
When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.
But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward – for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.
Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.
The third in Deborah Swift’s atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys’ Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.
Praise for the Pepys Trilogy
‘Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines’ – The Visitor
‘A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail’ – Readers Favorite 5*
‘Pepys and his world spring to vibrant lifeâ€¦ Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined’ -Lancashire Evening Post
About the Author
Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martinâs Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.
She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada
Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek
Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes
Thursday, November 28
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read
Monday, December 2
Review at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past
Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog
Monday, December 9
Review at Red Headed Book Lady
Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace
Wednesday, December 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life
Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
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