Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift
Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
'A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London' - Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack
'The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins' - Readers Favourite Review
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 life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined' -Lancashire Evening Post
Entertaining Mr. Pepys is the third book in Deborah Swift's trilogy telling the stories of the lives of women that appear in Samuel Pepys's famous diary. The novel also works as a stand alone. I haven't read the other two books and I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the novel.
Elizabeth "Bird" Carpenter is the main focus of Entertaining Mr. Pepys. When the novel begins, she is a young woman with a beautiful singing voice about to be married off so that her father and his new much-younger-wife can be alone to enjoy their new marriage. While Bird has ideas about what her husband should be like, her father is much more interested in getting her out of his house and make her someone else's responsibility. Sadly, her new husband, Mr. Knepp, married her simply to be his servant and to give him children. She must adjust to a life of hard work, scrambling to feed the yard hands on a pittance and avoiding her abusive husband.
Eventually Bird will be introduced to the theater by Livvy, her new friend and servant to her husband. Livvy introduces her to some of the women performing in the theater and Bird is stricken by a strong desire to sing and perform on stage. It is through her performances that she encounters Mr. Pepys.
Swift does a wonderful job of bringing the time period to life. I really appreciated how she brings the details of working-class life into the story. It helps the reader appreciate the vast differences of a woman's life today and during the 1600's. Swift also examines the issues of slavery as it was viewed at the time. The novel manages to explain the various conflicts that were causing tensions in England as well as the religious politics that play a large role in the era.
Entertaining Mr. Pepys is mostly about Bird and a few other women - Mr. Pepys himself is not a main focus. I really liked that Swift uses Pepys's diary as a jumping off point to imagine what Elizabeth Carpenter Knepp's life might have been like. I found the novel to be beautifully imagined with a cast of interesting and (mostly) likable characters. Mr. Knepp is not a sympathetic character for most of the novel, but Swift manages to allow even him to grow by the end.
Another character that is hard to like at first is an actor named Stefan. He had built his life in the theater playing women - before the change that allowed women to act on stage. Stefan isn't suited to playing the leading male roles and takes his frustrations out on Bird. However, as the reader learns more about his life, his motivations, and his secrets, he slowly becomes at least a person that can be sympathized with. He is allowed to grow as a person and has some interesting adventures.
There is something for everyone in this entertaining novel - from history buffs to theater lovers. Entertaining Mr. Pepys is definitely a book that I can recommend. I loved all the history - especially the amazing imagery of the Great Fire of 1666. I really enjoyed Entertaining Mr. Pepys and I look forward to reading the other books in the trilogy.
About the Author
She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.
For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour ScheduleThursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past
Friday, November 22
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
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
Friday, November 29
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
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
GiveawayDuring 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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