Friday, November 10, 2017

The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes

book cover
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn
by Margaret Willes

ISBN-13: 9780300221398
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Sept. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
An intimate portrait of two pivotal Restoration figures during one of the most dramatic periods of English history. Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn are two of the most celebrated English diarists. They were also extraordinary men and close friends. Through the richly documented lives of two remarkable men, Willes revisits the history of London and of England in an age of regicide, revolution, fire, and plague to reveal it also as a time of enthralling possibility.

Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests—diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books—and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design.

My Review:
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn is a biography of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. The author quoted from their diaries and personal correspondence, but she generally summarized what was said (probably because that's easier to read and understand).

She divided their lives into several themes: public careers and wider context of what was going on, descriptions of their family and major friends, their involvement in the Royal Society and interest in science, Pepys' interest in the theatre and music, Evelyn's interest in gardens and gardening and his books on horticulture, and their libraries (books, ballads, prints, etc.). The author also threw in some information about tea, coffee, and chocolate along with other imported consumer goods (including flowers and other plants).

These men lived through the Restoration of Charles II, the plague, and the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was interesting to see their views on what was going on and to get a sense of what life was like at that time. It's a quick look at what was happening and what some people's attitudes and interests were like. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in this time period in England.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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