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 Old Rowley - The King of Kings. 
Level5
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Joined: 14 Sep 2005
Posts: 195
Location: Rugby
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I have always been an avid bookworm and sometime in the seventies decided to buy a set of books called 'Kings and Queens '. One book per monarch.
The first book was Charles II by Christopher Falkus. I read this and became totally hooked on the monarch and the Stuart period. I visited various relevant historic sites and read other books and mags etc on the subject but up to that point had not read DW's 'Old Rowley'

I eventually read 'Old Rowley' three years ago and again over the last two weeks.

I have to say that it is certainly not one of the best biographies of Charles II as it seems to me that it is just a extract of other peoples comments/poems and statements put together in a very
clinical manner. It reminds me of an old school teacher reeling out fact after boring fact with little personal feeling (except towards the end). Very low in action grabbing status.

This period of history is one of the most exciting of times, The Civil War, The Plague, The Great Fire of London but so much is skipped over ie one and a half pages on the Great Fire and half a page on the Plague!!!!

In DW's defence he does add a note at the end to say that this book is purely a sketch of Charles II with the intention of getting other readers interested in the superb 'Merry Monarch' and he names other authors that would be appreciated by potential readers wishing to know more..
His praise of Arthur Bryants 'King Charles II' I would totally endorse and I would add Charles II by Antonia Fraser as another excellent book.

I did like the way he pointed out where Tyburn was situated for those wishing to go and see the sight of the gallows. I never knew it was near Hyde park.

I would really have liked DW to have created a character from this period and produced a series of books on what he is best at - 'novels', Much along the lines of Roger Brook but alas he only had so much time to produce what he did and I for one am grateful for that.

Stevie P.
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Level5
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Joined: 22 Jun 2005
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Location: NYC
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I am currently reading the Lymington edition of this, which I actually got from my local library! There are some rather confusing references to "the first war," so I am assuming that the 1967 hardcover was set from a later text than the 1933 first edition. (All the Lymingtons are reset, I guess, but the plates for this biography were destroyed during the Blitz, so there'd be no other option...)
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Hi Jim,

I'll be interested to know what you think of it.

Stevie P
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Joined: 22 Jun 2005
Posts: 349
Location: NYC
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Stevie P :
I'll be interested to know what you think of it.


I don't think it's DW at his best, by any means. While he certainly wrote well about historical settings, he wasn't a good writer about history. When he's got a neat plot going, you don't so much mind the info dumps, but I'm amazed at the contemporary reviews that called this book "sparkling" and the like. (Maybe it was the carefully phrased racy bits...)
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