Whilst I cannot help but admire the amount of work that this book consists of, I can t really say I enjoyed it I am sure historians who are interested in naval details would appreciate it, but for me it was rather too detailed One admires Pepys, he certainly was a warts and all character, but his opinion of the majority of women is hard to read in this day and age I am sure he was typical of many men at that time, but I found his sexual predatory nature rather distressing at some points I had to keep reminding myself he was born nearly 400 years ago All in all, a fascinating read, but certainly not an easy one.
This book came up on my recommendation list, and I was like, wow, wait a second, I ve already read this Not to mention, I loved it It s one of my favorite biographies So I thought I would write up a quick review on it.
What can I say, Pepys is fascinating, and if you are interested in 17th century England, I think reading about him is must I tried to read Pepys diary along with this, but it wasn t easy Pepys had a way of writing everything he was ashamed of in Spanish or French, which had me lost and frustrated, since those are the parts I wanted to read the most There is an easy shortened condensed version of the diary, which I whipped right through, but I felt like I was missing so much This biography filled in all the details nicely though, and gave me a lush and rich portrait of the man Pepys lived in London during the great plague in 1665, followed by the Great fire in 1966 I can t think of anything that gives a better portrait and insight into the 17th Century I really enjoyed this fascinating book Not to be confused with Samuel Johnson, who wrote the dictionary, which I always do No, this book is a biography of Samuel Pepys, who wrote the Diary An up from nothing country boy, Pepys abilities and high placed relatives put him at the center of English history for the last half of of the 1600 s He witnessed the execution of Charles I, rose high in Cromwell s administration, turned his coat when Charles II was restored to the throne and rose even higher, and then backed the wrong horse when Charles II died and James II took only four years to whistle his throne down a religious wind of his own making Pepys, the last man in the world to end his life as a Jacobite, does, out of loyalty and a stubborn determination to turn his coat no.
This is the best kind of biography, not only the life of the man himself but of the time and place as well Tomalin wisely relegates the Diary to its own section, the years 1660 1669 In the prologue, she writes The shamelessness of his self observation deserves to be called scientific.
and then places his words alongside the narrative of those years The Diary, with its tumbling stream of information, is a reminder that the moods and demands of daily life easily blot out politics Lack of cash was a pressing problem for Pepys than any possible change of regimeTomalin isn t above inserting the occasionally acid and always enjoyable editorial comment, either Almost the first advice Pepys got when his promotion was known was from a sea captain telling him how to fiddle his expenses by listing five or six non existent servants when he went on board and claiming pay for them all It made an interesting introduction to the workings of the navy.
Tomalin shows a masterly hand at drawing comparisons between that time and this, as well On Major Harrison being hanged, drawn and quartered for treason Pepys, in one of his most famous formulations, wrote that Major General Harrison looked as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition Pepys did not devote the rest of his day to higher thoughts any than one of us, turning from famine or child murder on television, remains sombre an hour later.
Due to his high office and connections at court Pepys had a front row seat to all the goings on, and as secretary to the British Navy a not inconsiderable hand in affairs himself On every page you aren t bumping into royalty, you stub your toe on someone out of the Who s Who of British science and literature, John Milton, John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke among many In the meantime, through Pepys eyes we singe our eyebrows on the Great Fire of London and fear for our lives from the plague It s a marvelous you are there visit Highly readable, highly recommended.