Adrian Tinniswood

Reviews of The Verneys

"From Jack, who made a killing in Syria, to horse-racing addict Henry, every member of this colourful clan, dysfunctional before the word was invented, springs four-square from the page."
Paperback choice, Sunday Telegraph
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"Exhaustive and witty... a satisfying account of how little family life has changed."
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"A lively, almost novelistic account of an aristocratic family... Tinniswood’s portraits are intimate, compelling, and deftly situated within the broader historical period, so that the turbulence of the seventeenth century is rendered as a human drama."
New Yorker
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" 'The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.' It's a proposition with which no historian can avoid grappling - and it lies at the heart of Adrian Tinniswood's wonderfully engaging biography of the Verneys."
Helen Castor, Guardian

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"Tinniswood weaves the lives of Sir Ralph’s nine brothers and sisters and innumerable collateral relations and family friends into a compelling drama of marriage, death, madness, adventure and travel... Extremely enjoyable."
Stella Tillyard, Sunday Times
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"As Adrian Tinniswood shows in this vivid and exciting account of their mixed fortunes, [the Verneys] had a strain of extreme eccentricity...
"The rich and vivid characters of the Verneys make history not only painless but positively pleasurable. This is a welcome return to exactly the kind of history that has always captivated the general reader."
Diane Purkiss, The Independent
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"A marvellous history. Intimate and compelling, it's an exciting tale of adventure on the high seas and a family torn apart by civil war."
Daily Mail

"An intimate view of the 17th century... While the Verneys were not quite famous in their own time, their story - like that of every family, then and now - was inevitably shaped by the tides of history... In their case, this included the colonisation of America, the downfall of Charles I and the ensuing English Civil War, the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution... this is surely the way history really works."
Adam Goodheart, New York Times

"Adrian Tinniswood's excellent book traces the story of the three generations of the Verney family who lived through the 17th century... An admirable work of scholarship, written with verve,style and imagination."
Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator

"With characteristic aplomb, British architectural historian Tinniswood (By Permission of Heaven, 2004, etc.) adjusts his gaze to focus on the aristocratic Verneys, who had a particularly fascinating—and occasionally sordid—history....
"An invaluable case study of aristocratic Stuart England's manners, customs and affairs—financial, legal and amorous. The author's admiration for the Verneys is evident on every page, as is his thorough research... He possesses a novelist's talent for storytelling."
Kirkus Reviews
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"Tinniswood, a shrewd and often moving portrayer of character, shows the passions of civil war tangling with the more mundane and yet inescapable preoccupations of the landed class...
"Adrian Tinniswood follows Veronica Wedgwood and the recently deceased Richard Ollard in a distinguished alternative tradition, which lies outside the academic world... [It] combines scholarly enterprise and precision with the power of imaginative re-creation. Historians who write only for each other have lost that gift."
Blair Worden, Literary Review
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"Splendid narrative history... The book hums with Tinniswood's infectious enthusiasm... We feel we're in the room with them."
Marianne Brace, Independent on Sunday
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"Tinniswood, already steeped in Stuart England from his delvings into Christopher Wren and the Great Fire of London, writes with an ease, a simplicity and a sense of fun that makes this book extraordinary...
"In this wonderful reconstruction... we are in a strange, far country that is suddenly made as bright and real as day."
Ann Wroe, Daily Telegraph
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"A book that offers a true feel of family life - and family tensions - in the turbulent 17th century...
" By far the most historically assured, best told, and most entertaining telling of the Verney saga... The best introduction to one of 17th-century England's most engaging and immediately knowable families."
John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph
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"The Verneys is much more than a wonderful family saga, full of spectacular rows and tearful makings-up, joyful births and tragic early deaths. With enormous skill and flair Mr Tinniswood uses the lives of these ordinary men and women to tell a much larger story about British cultural, political and social life in the 17th century. In doing so he provides a model for how biography and social history - two genres which have tended to remain oddly aloof from one another - can be made to work magnificently together."

"Thanks to a unique archive of letters kept by this family of Buckinghamshire gentry, Tinniswood can bring us these everyday stories of everyday 17th-century folk. Like the best soaps, the truth at times veers off into the realms of the frankly sensational: here we have Sir Francis Verney "turning Turk", moving to Tunis and becoming a Barbary pirate. There's Edmund, the Royalist standard-bearer at Edgehill, who fell fighting for his King. His son Tom is an informer for the Parliamentarians. Mary goes mad: her relatives' correspondence shows their helplessness before an unhappiness they can't comprehend. Then there's Molly, who marries for love - a happy ending, apparently, except that it endangers her whole family, so much is riding on the advantageous match they thought they'd made. This is a wonderfully immediate, intimate portrait of an age."
The Scotsman

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