Blog Tour: Pleasing Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift: A Book Review

Pleasing Mr. Pepys
Author: Deborah Swift
Publication Date: September 28, 2017
Accent Press
eBook & Paperback; 407 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: London 1667.

     Set in a London rising from the ruins of the Great Fire, Pleasing Mr Pepys is a vivid re-imagining of the events in Samuel Pepys’s Diary.

     Desperate to escape her domineering aunt, Deb Willet thinks the post of companion to well-respected Elisabeth Pepys is the answer to her prayers. But Samuel Pepys’s house is not as safe as it seems. An intelligent girl in Deb’s position has access to his government papers, and soon she becomes a target of flamboyant actress Abigail Williams, a spy for England’s enemies, the Dutch.

    Abigail is getting old and needs a younger accomplice. She blackmails Deb into stealing Pepys’s documents. Soon, the respectable life Deb longs for slides out of her grasp. Mr Pepys’s obsessive lust for his new maid increases precisely as Abigail and her sinister Dutch spymaster become more demanding. When Deb falls for handsome Jem Wells, a curate-in-training, she thinks things cannot possibly get worse.

    Until – not content with a few stolen papers – the Dutch want Mr Pepys’s Diary.

   My Review: Pleasing Mr. Pepys is a retelling of The Diary of Samuel Pepys told from the maid Deb Willet. Deb Willet wishes to escape the clutches of her aunt. She is hired to be the maid of Elizabeth, Samuel Pepys’s wife. She hopes that this employment will help support her sister and give her the freedom she deserves. However, she soon attracts the jealousy of Elizabeth and the attention of Samuel. Deb also finds herself caught up in the midst of political intrigue. Will Deb be able to keep herself out of danger and find happiness?

  Before I read this book, I did not know anything about Deb Willet or Samuel Pepys. However, this by no means deterred my reading. Deb was a very likable and sympathetic character. When we are first introduced to her, she comes off as hopeful, naive, and eager to please. Little does she know that what seems to be a simple job would be more than she could chew. Thus, I was enthralled with how she dealt with the circumstances that she did not expect. Eventually, she matures into a strong and smart heroine to root for. 

    Overall, this book is full of adventure, drama, and political intrigue. I did not really care for the secondary characters that much. I disliked Samuel Pepys and Elizabeth got on my nerves. At first, I didn’t like Abigail. However, once I knew more about her I gradually liked her. I also did not like the alternating viewpoints of various characters. The straightforward writing style did not appeal to me. I usually prefer more imagery and description when reading historical fiction. However, I did like how the author portrayed 17th century England. While it took at least halfway for me to be interested in the plot, I found myself glued to the story. Thus, it was a page-turner that made for fun reading. I recommend Pleasing Mr. Pepys for fans of Twain’s End, Call Me Zelda, and The Spy Mistress

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


  "Swift brought Deborah Willet, the Pepyses, and the London of the 1660s to life in an exciting and sometimes touching way...I didn't want to put it down, and found myself thinking about the story when I went about my day." - Andrea Zuvich, Author of His Last Mistress

"Deb Willet, Elizabeth Pepys's maid and the object of Samuel Pepys's attentions, is finally given centre-stage after 350 years, and her tale was worth waiting for. This is exceptional story-telling." - L. C. Tyler

"Laced with emotional intensity and drama, Pleasing Mr Pepys... (has) an intricate plot that features red herrings, unexpected twists, and surprises that will take readers on a very delightful ride." - Arya Fomonyuy, Readers' Favorite

About the Author:

     Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

     She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

    For more information, please visit Deborah Swift's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


  1. Thank you for hosting Deborah's Blog Tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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