Monday, 19 August 2013

His and hers

His wife, her bower, his beans, her flowers, his mother's urns, her pond...

I've just finished reading Restoration by Rose Tremain. I see that in fact I read it before, 12 years ago - not that I remember much. My (re)reading was prompted by finding a copy at the house in which I stayed for a week last month, and borrowing it from there, thinking also that Caroline would want to read it: it's currently her book club book. I also thought it would be interesting to compare its writing with that of the sequel, which I enjoyed reading last year.

Two decades separate Merivel from Restoration, which now feels rather ponderous, though the recurring motif of hindsight in reverse remains a charming conceit. I love this passage, genuinely prophetic, written as it was in 1989. "I dreamed, last night, a most infamous dream. I was in a high chamber at Whitehall where a clutch of gallants and their women, together with the King and Queen, were assembled. Why are we all come here? I asked one I recognised as Sir Rupert Pinworth. Why... for the wedding. Naturally. At that moment, the crowd moved to make a pathway for the bride and groom... And then I saw their faces... And I saw that it was indeed... two women whom the priest had married... And Sir Rupert leaned over and whispered in my ear: You see what marriage is become. It is become anything we make it be. And I woke up very hot and troubled."

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