A Mirror for Monkeys
Beneath the floorboards of a ruined house, an 18th-century memoir is discovered. It reveals the life story of William Congreve, acclaimed English playwright and poet of the Restoration period. The lost manuscript is penned by his faithful servant, Jeremy, who explores memories of his former master and sketches the political background of that crucial period in British history: the beginning of the Glorious Revolution and the fierce rivalry of a parliament divided.
Upon his death a monument in Stowe is erected to honour Mr. Congreve. Atop a slender pyramid sits a monkey peering into a mirror, a court wit seeing reflected the ironies of polite society folding in on itself as Whigs and Tories feud with scant ground for compromise.
Through the prisms of memory and art, award-winning author John Spurling reimagines this tumultuous period and brings to life historical figures Dryden, Vanbrugh, Swift, Pope and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu as never before.