Excerpt and Feature: Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Entertaining Mr. Pepys
by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



London 1666

Elizabeth ‘Bird’ Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward – for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

The third in Deborah Swift’s atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys’ Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.

‘A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London’ – Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack

‘The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins’ – Readers Favourite Review

Amazon | Book Depository

Praise for the Pepys Trilogy

‘Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines’ – The Visitor

‘A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail’ – Readers Favorite 5*

‘Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined’ -Lancashire Evening Post

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 FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, November 22
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Thursday, November 28
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, November 29
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, December 2
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, December 9
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Entertaining Mr. Pepys


Chapter 1

London, March 1659

When someone is in love, they turn inside out. The man you think you know is gone, and a new shining man appears. A man that is the opposite of everything he was before. So it was with Bird’s father. Instead of his sober lawyer’s doublet, he took to wearing lace-tipped cravats, flapping coats in the Indian style, and the worst sin of all, curling his hair with clay curlers. It made him look like a Royalist, and the curls, with his balding pate, made him look ridiculous.

Bird had tried, she really had, for her father’s sake, to like Dorcas.

But Dorcas wanted to own Bird’s father, and was busy fencing him around with her opinions. And Dorcas had plenty of those. Bird shouldn’t wear this colour petticoat, or that height of shoe. She shouldn’t play this sort of music, or read that kind of book. According to Dorcas, nearly everything was ‘unsuitable’.

So now, they had found Bird a suitable match.

She paced the tiled hall, dressed in her Sunday suit of lilac watered silk, her skirts swishing as she twisted at each turn. Behind that door was her future; her freedom. Twenty years old, and she was ready to burst out of this life and into another.

Inside the chamber, the hum of men’s voices was too low for her to hear.

‘Shall I …?’ Sukey, her pale-faced lady’s maid, reached for the door handle.

Bird pulled her back. ‘Wait!’ She held up both her hands with the fingers crossed.

Silently, Sukey shook her head, but made the same gesture back. Neither smiled. Both knew it was far too serious a business for smiling. The dream of what lay beyond the door couldn’t be spoken. The fairy-tale knight was too ridiculous an idea for a grown woman, and yet somehow that hope still clung …

Bird took Sukey’s hands and squeezed them, something Dorcas disapproved of. Her voice echoed in Bird’s head: Never touch the servants.

Sukey squeezed back, her expression grave, and mouthed, ‘good luck,’ turning the handle and swinging the door wide.

A deep breath. Bird sailed through the open door, eyes immediately searching out the stranger standing before the ornate oak fireplace.

‘Mature,’ her father had said.

She stopped, mid-step. He was old. At a guess, a good ten or even fifteen years older than she. Thirty? Thirty-five?

At once, everything within her seemed to be mired in quicksand, sinking. A glance was enough to see his clothes were dark and a little too tight, skimpy even, and the knees of his breeches rubbed thin with wear. A wiry body, and nervous, restless eyes that alighted everywhere but on her, and the wary stance of a dog that had strayed into someone else’s territory.

It was then she realised that love doesn’t just blind. It renders everything irrelevant except the one object of its affections. Her father had lied. There was nothing in the least handsome or well-favoured about Mr Knepp.

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