Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Verney Weekend

I finished Adrian Tinniswood's The Verneys about a year ago, and found myself rereading it this weekend, enjoying it just as much. If you don't already know it, Tinniswood's book tells the story of an eccentric aristocratic Buckinghamshire family swept up in the drama of the seventeenth century. One member became a pirate, another went insane, and Sir Ralph (1613-1696) kept just about every piece of paper, as did his son John, later Viscount Fermanagh. The Verneys thus draws on a wonderfully large family archive accumulated over the last few centuries.

My blurb on the back cover calls it a fascinating grand tour through a world turned upside down, showing the seventeenth century in all its splendor and brutality. Ross King, author of Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling and The Judgment of Paris, also on the back cover, calls it "A wonderful group portrait of an eccentric and ill-starred dynasty. Expertly handling the humorous words and unwise deeds of several generations of Verneys, Adrian Tinniswood breathes life into the turbulent history of an entire century." Take the quiz presented by Britain's Channel Four in conjunction with the book here.