Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
Pleasing Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift is a compelling novel featuring a historical personage with powerful political undertones. Inspired by the famous Samuel Pepy’s diary, this novel explores some of the key players in the historical events that took place in Pepys’ time. Deb Willet can’t stand her aunt’s overbearing attitude anymore, so she accepts the post of a maid to Elisabeth Pepys, hoping to find respite from her troubles, but she gets caught up in a web of intrigue and manipulation, geared at accessing government files at Pepys’ house. She is targeted by the actress Abigail William, who is a cunning Dutch spy and who blackmails her into stealing Pepys’ documents. While Pepys continues to feed his lust for his new maid, Abigail exerts more pressure for information. But things spiral out of control when she demands his diary. It’s for the reader to find out how the conflict develops and how it climaxes to reach a satisfying denouement.
Laced with emotional intensity and drama, Pleasing Mr. Pepys is a novel with an intriguing setting, interesting and well-developed characters, and an intricate plot that features red herrings, unexpected twists, and surprises that will take readers on a very delightful ride. Deborah Swift has re-imagined historical characters in a way that brings them back to life, making readers interact with them and feel like the action is taking place in front of their very eyes. The historical references are relevant and compelling, neatly woven into the plot, and coated with a realism that hits readers with great force. This is one of the best historical novels I have read in a while that combines drama, humor, and the masterful art of storytelling to transport readers into the heart of history. A very delightful read!