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Peveril of the Peak by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

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Most of the story takes place in Derbyshire, London, and on the Isle of Man. The title refers to Peveril Castle in Castleton, Derbyshire. "Here is a plot without a drop of blood; and all the elements of a romance, without its conclusion," says King Charles II near the end of Peveril of the Peak. As well he might! The book's about a popish plot to do him in and pits puritan Most of the story takes place in Derbyshire, London, and on the Isle of Man. The title refers to Peveril Castle in Castleton, Derbyshire. "Here is a plot without a drop of blood; and all the elements of a romance, without its conclusion," says King Charles II near the end of Peveril of the Peak. As well he might! The book's about a popish plot to do him in and pits puritan against catholic in a nation that'd just passed thruogh the worst of its reformation. Peveril of the Peak was written in 1822 -- that is, in Scott's middle period, a time when he wrote books by reconstructing history, as he'd first done in Ivanhoe.


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Most of the story takes place in Derbyshire, London, and on the Isle of Man. The title refers to Peveril Castle in Castleton, Derbyshire. "Here is a plot without a drop of blood; and all the elements of a romance, without its conclusion," says King Charles II near the end of Peveril of the Peak. As well he might! The book's about a popish plot to do him in and pits puritan Most of the story takes place in Derbyshire, London, and on the Isle of Man. The title refers to Peveril Castle in Castleton, Derbyshire. "Here is a plot without a drop of blood; and all the elements of a romance, without its conclusion," says King Charles II near the end of Peveril of the Peak. As well he might! The book's about a popish plot to do him in and pits puritan against catholic in a nation that'd just passed thruogh the worst of its reformation. Peveril of the Peak was written in 1822 -- that is, in Scott's middle period, a time when he wrote books by reconstructing history, as he'd first done in Ivanhoe.

30 review for Peveril of the Peak by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Esdaile

    I am full of admiration for Walter Scott's energy and enthusiasm. This story is set in the period of the Restauration. The writer portrays the intrigue, conflict and resentment in the aftermath of a religious civil war. It reads easily and well although the language is extremely rich and I suspect archaic in parts even at the time it was written, let alone today. I liked it more than "Red Gauntlet", the other Scott novel which I have read, because I felt that the charcters were more complex and I am full of admiration for Walter Scott's energy and enthusiasm. This story is set in the period of the Restauration. The writer portrays the intrigue, conflict and resentment in the aftermath of a religious civil war. It reads easily and well although the language is extremely rich and I suspect archaic in parts even at the time it was written, let alone today. I liked it more than "Red Gauntlet", the other Scott novel which I have read, because I felt that the charcters were more complex and in that sense more realistic, well not all the characters, but certainly Master Bridgenorth, the religious zealotm with very much a human heart, is multi-dimensional. I have the same reservation with Soctt however, as I have with Joseph Conrad, so that I nearly awarded this book only three stars and my reservation, which I find difficult to express is that the although the author seems to be revealing very much about his charcaters and even his art, the reader (or this reader at least!) is left with the strong feeling that the author is concealing more than he reveals, both about his own sentiments and about the motivations of his characters. His characters seem to have no history not directly bearing on the story to hand. This is I suppose the "dramatic" quality of Conrad and Scott, which many people admire. However, I feel that the psychology is thrust on the reader and not explained. I wonder if anyone feels the same way about Scott or Conrad? Or not at all? I should be interested in comments on this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay C

    Closer to 3.5 stars. I enjoyed parts of it due to my affinity for the Isle of Man, but all the Popish Plot intrigue and machinations got a little tiresome by the end of the book. Loved the character, Fenella, and the “romance” of the young Peveril and Alice Bridgenorth too. What SWS Scott novel should I read next?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hepple

    Peveril of the Peak is a historical adventures novel first published in 1822. It is set in the years following the English Civil War, and deals with the clash of ideologies that was common for many years in its aftermath, and culminates in the events surrounding the Popish Plot of 1678. This makes for a rich background, and the plot reflects this by being fast moving and interesting despite being one of Scotts longest novels. The plot itself is predictable at times, not helped by Scotts habit of Peveril of the Peak is a historical adventures novel first published in 1822. It is set in the years following the English Civil War, and deals with the clash of ideologies that was common for many years in its aftermath, and culminates in the events surrounding the Popish Plot of 1678. This makes for a rich background, and the plot reflects this by being fast moving and interesting despite being one of Scotts longest novels. The plot itself is predictable at times, not helped by Scotts habit of giving away key items in his foreword. Scotts other habit, of using lots of historic characters and events in the plot is there in force, and it works well – as does his habit of having regular footnotes embellishing descriptions. Brilliant.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Oh, Walter, Walter, why didn't you slow down a bit? There is such a good story in here if one can penetrate the verbal diarrhoea which afflicted him in all his novels, this one more than most - but at least it's not in dialect. As with 'The Fortunes of Nigel', this novel comes to life once the Monarch is introduced. The portrait of Charles II is totally believable, and rather likeable, as is Bad Lord Buckingham....but it shouldn't have needed 300 pages to get to the decent part of the story! Oh, Walter, Walter, why didn't you slow down a bit? There is such a good story in here if one can penetrate the verbal diarrhoea which afflicted him in all his novels, this one more than most - but at least it's not in dialect. As with 'The Fortunes of Nigel', this novel comes to life once the Monarch is introduced. The portrait of Charles II is totally believable, and rather likeable, as is Bad Lord Buckingham....but it shouldn't have needed 300 pages to get to the decent part of the story!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    When I started Peveril of the Peak I had no idea what it was about, which turned out to be fine because the first chapter or so pretty much lays it all out. There are, in fact, two Peverils of the Peak, a father and a son, and the story gives some attention to both of them, though it ends up being mainly about the son. The Peverils are the nobles of the area, supporters of the king during the English Civil War and therefore utterly reduced to desolation during the rule of Cromwell. Fortunately f When I started Peveril of the Peak I had no idea what it was about, which turned out to be fine because the first chapter or so pretty much lays it all out. There are, in fact, two Peverils of the Peak, a father and a son, and the story gives some attention to both of them, though it ends up being mainly about the son. The Peverils are the nobles of the area, supporters of the king during the English Civil War and therefore utterly reduced to desolation during the rule of Cromwell. Fortunately for them, they had a good neighbour, Bridgenorth, who was of the Roundhead party who pulled enough strings for them to live unmolested on their family’s old estate. Bridgenorth’s wife then died in childbirth and he, unable to cope with the newborn in addition to the loss of his wife, let the Peverils take temporary charge of his baby daughter temporarily for Lady Peveril to raise with her young son. (So far, without any additional details of the plot, it was pretty much obvious that the infants would end up falling in love later, which *spoiler* is exactly what happens.) So the two neighbours live in relative harmony until, in the governmental scramble following Cromwell’s death, the monarchy is restored to the exiled Stewart heir, Charles II. Both sides looked with anticipation to the restoration as a return of stability and prosperity to the country long divided by war and religion, but soon the old prejudices boil back to the surface, and the Peverils and Bridgenorth are no exception. From being the Peverils’ protector, Bridgenorth becomes the underprivileged of the two and with that change in dynamic comes resentment and offense. An execution that took place during the time of war is dredged up and Bridgenorth demands the punishment of the perpetrator, while the Peverils maintain that a wartime act is not subject to ordinary courses of justice and in fact assist the escape of the executioner in question, the Countess of Derby, and ruler of the Isle of Man. Things spiral and Bridgenorth finds sympathy for his affront with other Puritans, whisking his now-toddler daughter away from her foster parents, his former friends, and disappearing with her into the shadowy world of plots and religious fanaticism. Meanwhile, the Peverils commit their son to the service of the Countess of Derby for his education in the ways of a courtly gentleman. And so the two children grow up apart, as the Restoration gets into full swing and the aggravation of difference between two branches of Christianity result in the insidious proliferation of the Popish Plots. As an aside, there is a mention about how Bridgenorth might follow fellow-Puritans to the New World to avoid some kind of retribution that might be imposed on them by the government or their fellow citizens. Somehow my brain never really made the conceptual, contextual connection between the Puritans of Cromwellian England and the Puritans on, say, the Mayflower. It seems obvious, but I failed to realise that the Restoration of the monarchy (which was distinctly Catholic-leaning, if not openly Catholic) after the English Civil War seemed like it would spell disaster for some Puritans and they chose to leave the country and settle in the colonies like New England to avoid persecution. Oh well, either I wasn’t paying enough attention in school, or the direct connection between the political and religious unrest in England and the exodus of the Puritans to North America was not really stressed. Anyway, I can directly connect them now, so I’ve learned something. Points for the educational power of historical fiction. I really enjoyed how this novel explored the nuance of the culture at this time of political upheaval. There was a prevalence of public belief in a “Popish Plot” which was supposed to target Charles II. As a result, a frantic group of “Witnesses” arose, denouncing people left and right for being Catholic sympathizers and possible perpetrators of the fictitious plot. It grew to the ridiculous point that, in Peveril of the Peak, Charles II—the king who is supposedly the target of the Popish Plot—is cautious of being too friendly with known Catholic nobles, for fear of being charged with plotting against himself. Yikes. Meanwhile, the domestic terror of the ubiquitous Popish plot serves as the cover for other more political plots: plots that involve manipulating the king and making bids for his throne. And these are the plots that Bridgenorth’s grown daughter finds herself embroiled in by her smooth uncle who wins confidence by being all things to all men, while Peveril is involved in others by the Catholic Countess of Derby. The two young people are forced to navigate the increasingly dangerous political situation on polar opposite sides, while trying to find a place for their budding love for one another. The intrigue of this story is carefully laid out with different threads, motivations, relations, and machinations. The disparate elements of the story pull together throughout, as subsequent plots are revealed, layered under the ever-present Popish plot. It really expounds the difficulty of loyalty at such a delicate time, when family loyalty goes against party loyalty, party loyalty against religious, religious against governmental, governmental against personal…and on and on it goes. But yet, each development seems reasonable, and the characters make choices and changes consistent with their personalities. Even the increasingly radical Bridgenorth does not devolve into a caricature, and every distinct personality is given some compassionate understanding, if not by the other characters, then by the narration. With the possible exception of the all-things-to-all-men uncle, who is quite the consummate villain. I loved the characters, the plot (the story plot, I mean), and the sometimes too-real novelizations of prejudice, factions, and politics, as well as the flawed people who carry it all on. I’m finding it hard to give more detailed outlines of things because this book is so complex. I just recommend reading it if you like intrigue, politics, historical fiction, a varied cast, or the writing of Sir Walter Scott in general.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carl Waluconis

    This is Walter Scott's longest novel. It is set during the English Civil War as the Roundheads (who became the USA's Pilgrims) fought the flamboyant royalty. Somewhat like the current near civil war in America, you can tell the sides by how they dress - Roundheads somber and staunch (you know the Pilgrim look) and the Royalists all ruffled and cavaliered out. The feeling of the political struggle seeping into every aspect of life is another similarity of that time to now. When the Roundheads are This is Walter Scott's longest novel. It is set during the English Civil War as the Roundheads (who became the USA's Pilgrims) fought the flamboyant royalty. Somewhat like the current near civil war in America, you can tell the sides by how they dress - Roundheads somber and staunch (you know the Pilgrim look) and the Royalists all ruffled and cavaliered out. The feeling of the political struggle seeping into every aspect of life is another similarity of that time to now. When the Roundheads are punished, they are sent off to America. That being said, I still feel somewhat like a being out of time because I enjoy reading Scott so much. The sound of English at the time he wrote captivates me, and to top that he could write accurately (we are told be people who lived then) in quite a few different dialects. If you take a little time to jog into the rhythm, the prose will pick up for you. However, the title seems today seems at least a little silly even to me. I always pictured some Percy-like character. In fact Peveril of the Peak is a rough swordsman always willing to draw his weapon. As in many of Scott's novels, the characters are richly diverse. For instance, a key character in this novel is a woman from the mid-east (called Asian then) who appears as two different women, one who cannot speak, but who is a tremendous dancer and agile enough to perform superhero gymnastics up-and-down the walls of old castles. As with other more well-drawn women in Scott's novels, she is also a spy. Unfortunately, in the Wikipedia summary of the novel she is called a dwarf, which she is not. She may be short of stature, but not a dwarf, a characteristic of another character from the book, who has the same Christian name as Peveril of the Peak. This dwarf is based on a historical person who was once baked into a pie to entertain royalty. The book has quite a few "real" people, including the fabulous Duke of Buckingham. This guy's fantastic life and personality deserves full treatment, maybe in a movie. Scott gives Buckingham wonderful lines such as, "If one must go to hell, I would it were by some new road." Walter Scott does not today seem to have too many who care much for him. In addition to the Wikipedia misinformation on the novel, I found another website purporting to have the novel, but which actually leaves out the first sections of "Peveril of the Peak". When reading Scott, I like an old copy; the one I read was from a set of 1900 Waverly novels with cool old illustrations. It also has all Scott's notes, which come to think of it I guess these days could be done in hypertext. Taken from the last line of 33 pages of Scott's at times interesting if diverting notes, the author perfectly describes the reason for reading the novel, "this work dedicated to the preservation of extraordinary occurrences, whether real or fictitious."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    The title of the book doesn't really grab one's attention, but the book itself is top shelf. Continuing in the vein of historical fiction involving the monarchs of Scotland and England, this book is set in the Restoration period of Charles II. The narrative is a page-turner, with intrigue and counter-intrigue, revolution and counter-revolution. The book is constructed as stories within stories, and plots within plots. It's amazing that the manuscript was handwritten by the author. The main plot The title of the book doesn't really grab one's attention, but the book itself is top shelf. Continuing in the vein of historical fiction involving the monarchs of Scotland and England, this book is set in the Restoration period of Charles II. The narrative is a page-turner, with intrigue and counter-intrigue, revolution and counter-revolution. The book is constructed as stories within stories, and plots within plots. It's amazing that the manuscript was handwritten by the author. The main plot line involves the attempt to procure a particular young girl for Charles II in an effort to gain royal favor, and a counter-attempt to save the unwilling young girl from this fate. Intertwined with this dramatic story is a plot to overthrow the king by a Puritan faction. The author creates compelling portraits of Charles II and the Duke of Buckingham, as well as a vast array of other major and minor characters. Curiously, many of Scott's books feature a dwarf or a witch to either interfere or help characters in their struggles, and this book features a dwarf (a real historical character) and a sorceress (self-proclaimed). Against the backdrop of the Restoration, a period in which the Puritans lost power to the Cavaliers, but hope to regain power by any means necessary, individual people struggle with their own problems, which then get caught up in larger struggles, spiraling out of their control. Epic themes in a story well told.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Curt

    This was a favorite of Queen Victoria's husband but I chose to read it at this time because of my current focus on 17th century Scotland. Definitely one of Scott's more readable novels. Just one more of the works that demonstrates the results of a lack of religious tolerance. Is all this what Christianity is all about. Loved the scenes involving King Charles II. Loved one more of Scott's happy endings. Loved the strength of another one of Scott's female characters. Once more I reflect on those wh This was a favorite of Queen Victoria's husband but I chose to read it at this time because of my current focus on 17th century Scotland. Definitely one of Scott's more readable novels. Just one more of the works that demonstrates the results of a lack of religious tolerance. Is all this what Christianity is all about. Loved the scenes involving King Charles II. Loved one more of Scott's happy endings. Loved the strength of another one of Scott's female characters. Once more I reflect on those who have blamed Scott for the Civil War in America because he promoted chivalry and the plantation owners in the South found this inspiring. I find nothing objectionable in chivalry and if the South misused this principle, it is not the fault of Scott. Otherwise Jesus Christ would be responsible for not only the 17th century British Civil War but also the Spanish Inquisition.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jean Blackwood

    There are enough characters and plot twists in this book to have made two books at least. It's mind boggling to think of Sir Walter writing all of this out by hand, and using a quill pen! However, if you enjoy this worthy gentleman's work you won't be sorry to trudge on until the end. Not his greatest work, but not least either. There are enough characters and plot twists in this book to have made two books at least. It's mind boggling to think of Sir Walter writing all of this out by hand, and using a quill pen! However, if you enjoy this worthy gentleman's work you won't be sorry to trudge on until the end. Not his greatest work, but not least either.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    3.5 stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Iqra Tasmiae

    https://www.historyextra.com/period/s... https://www.historyextra.com/period/s...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Rumble

    Yes my first Scott novel and loved the complex vocab and sentence structure which you needed to parse grammatically to understand properly is this a dying skill with lazy modern readers? Took 147 pages to really get going but a very good evocation of Restoration England and the disfigure court of Charles Second with good portraits of Charles and the Duke of Buckingham

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Scott once again weaves a fun, adventurous, romantic tale. It wraps up a little quickly at the end, but other than that I really enjoyed it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lori Goshert

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helen Kiruiru

  17. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Ervin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hulponot

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carl Cowell

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allen Martens

  25. 4 out of 5

    Naori

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra E Jordan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Mackenna

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy Kline

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  30. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Wilkin

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