Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: The Visit of the Royal Physician

This novel of personal and political intrigue is set in the court of King Christian VII of Denmark at a time when the monarch was merely a figurehead, and real power was held by those who controlled the King.

And thus, Per Olov Enquist takes us on a journey through the murkiness of Danish politics in the mid-18th Century.

Now, I was, and still am, unfamiliar with Danish politics of the 17th and 18th centuries. This novel does given in incite into the grab for political and royal power against a growing backdrop of "european" change.

At the forefront of the book is King Christian VII, whom many considered to have been either mad or an imbecile; his English wife, Caroline-Mathilde; the German Doctor, Struensee; and the man who opposed the burgeoning "Age of Enlightenment" - Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.

Events in the story are sometimes retold from the perspective of different characters - and at times I struggled over whether this was a fictionalised account of the events in question or an actual retelling - as in a biography, of sorts.

Had I a firmer grasp on Danish "affairs of state" I may well have understood the flow of events.

In all though, a most interesting read.

"The Visit of the Royal Physician" by Per Olov Enquist, and translated by Tiina Nunnally.

Rosenborg Castle

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