1666 tells the story of the Great Plague, the second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London through the eyes of the people who were there. It’s a seamless stitching together of perspectives and experiences into one dramatic and coherent story.
Characters recur, some well known, such as Pepys and Rochester and Margaret Cavendish (the subject of another recent book, Margaret the First) others less prominent – traders and preachers and bakers.
The strength of 1666 is its immediacy. You feel like you are there, listening to the cacophony of voices, rummaging through records and contracts and accounts. The flipside of this is that you lose depth. Reading it I did at times feel hungry for something more challenging, analysis rather than description, a stronger sense of the social and economic forces at play. Although I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the period – most of what I know I’ve absorbed through osmosis and a childhood obsession with Jean Plaidy novels – there wasn’t much here that was new to me.
However, 1666 does tell you a great pacy story. The author makes it seem easy, rather than the mammoth task it must have been. It’s a good overview and starting point if you want to get a flavour of the period and some pointers as to where to find out more.
I received a copy of 1666 from the publisher via Bookbridgr.
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