Wednesday 28 August 2013

Book Review: The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist

Title: The Visit of the Royal Physician
Author: Per Olov Enquist
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2003 (1999)
Pages: 309
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical     
Source: Bought Copy

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An international sensation, The Visit of the Royal Physician magnificently recasts the dramatic era of Danish history when Johann Friedrich Struensee -- court physician to mad young King Christian -- stepped through an aperture in history and became the holder of absolute power in Denmark. His is a gripping tale of power, sex, love, and the life of the mind, and it is superbly rendered here by one of Sweden's most acclaimed writers. A charismatic German doctor and brilliant intellectual, Struensee used his influence to introduce hundreds of reforms in Denmark in the 1760s. He had a tender and erotic affair with Queen Caroline Mathilde, who was unsatisfied by her unstable, childlike husband. Yet Struensee lacked the subtlety of a skilled politician and the cunning to choose enemies wisely; these flaws proved fatal, and would eventually lead to his tragic demise. (Goodreads Synopsis)

The Visit of the Royal Physician is a book I discovered after I fell in love with the film A Royal Affair and started searching for more books and information on Johann Struensee. I, therefore, came to the book with knowledge of the basic storyline, but I still got a lot out of it.

At first, I found the language a little stilted, but suddenly, a few chapters in, I realised I was hooked, swept up in the amazing story and beautifully drawn characters.

Enquist use of language and style of prose takes some getting used to, but once it starts to feel familiar it also becomes very interesting to read.

I really felt a lot more for Christian in this book than the film and less for Caroline. Streunsee is equally likeable and relatable in both the book and film and I must say I find him totally fascinating.

I can highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction who are looking for something a bit different than the usual fare and who are sick of books about the Tudors.

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