Longer articles on broader topics.

Review: "Samuel Pepys and His Books" by Kate Loveman

'Samuel Pepys and His Books' coverMens cuiusque is est quisque: the mind is the man. Pepys adopted this quote from Cicero as his motto in later life. He had bookplates made featuring the Latin inscription beneath a portrait of himself in flourishing middle age. Always conscious of his public persona (some would say always a social climber) the clear implication was that a person’s books demonstrate the breadth of their learning and intellectual interests, and perhaps their political and religious views. So when we stand in the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge looking at the handsome book presses, the portraits and the maps, scanning the shelves and examining the titles, are we gazing into the mind of Samuel Pepys?

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Review: "Samuel Pepys and the Stolen Diary" by M J Lee

[Disclaimer: The author sent us a free copy of the book; we were under no obligation to say something good about it! Phil.]

'Samuel Pepys and the Stolen Diary' coverNot a book for serious academics, this is a fast-paced bit of Pepysian fantasy in which Sam and Will Hewer set out to retrieve a necklace and the last volume of the diary, which have been stolen in mysterious circumstances.

As a regular Pepys reader, I found that the dialogue could be painfully anachronistic at times; modern (American) idiom is overused (“any time soon”) and some characters sounded more Victorian than Restoration (“tea-leaf” is Cockney rhyming slang). The plot is fast-paced, occasionally lurching into the feverishly surreal; Sam and Will with a leather-clad Aphra Behn in an armed scuffle? A seventeenth century “car chase” scene? Too much!

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