“Sweatman brings a wonderful sense of flair to the proceedings, finessing new methods of viewing the world. Her eyes and ears tend toward the poetic, reminding one at times of Michael Ondaatje’s texture-heavy texts, but Sweatman has a lighter touch.”
— Corey Redekop, Shelf Monkey
“Margaret Sweatman’s historical novel is far grittier and realistic than the period pieces you’ll see on TV or at the movie theatre. And more erotic, too… Sweatman’s writing flows as smoothly as a muscular northern river, with a stunning control of voice. She keeps the reader engaged every moment, introducing us to a company of intriguing characters.”
— Mark Frutkin, The Globe and Mail
“Margaret Sweatman’s The Players is the kind of novel that just feeds the desire for and appreciation of good writing. I read it and loved it as a reader, but I appreciated it, and was inspired by it, as a writer as well…”
— Inkslinger, The Over Decorated Bookcase
“The Players is a magical tale, much akin to Douglas Glover’s Elle and Bill Gaston’s The Order of Good Cheer.…this is a wonderfully humourous tale filled with playful language.”
— Andrew Armitage, The Sun Times
Goose Lane Editions, 2009
“It is 1665, and young Lilly Cole must learn to act, to perform in the King’s theatre company of “players. At the same time, two French explorers, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, arrive in Court to charm two ships from the English King. Set in the libertine era of Restoration England, The Players takes us on a voyage of discovery. While this novel is set in the 17th Century, the world it evokes is remarkably contemporary. In The Players the ability to perform – on stage, in Court, in private quarters and in the brutal cold of James Bay – this is the way of survival.”
Nominated for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.
The ideas for a novel set in the 1660s began with Led Zeppelin.
Look at the photograph of Jimmy Page. Then look at the painting of King Charles II, three hundred years earlier. The sadness. The genius.
Look at the photograph of Robert Plant. Then look at the painting of the court poet Lord Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester – a self-destructive poet who became Bartholomew in The Players.
British rock and roll of the 1960s and 1970s was idealistic and cynical, self-mocking and self-pitying. It was uncannily similar to Restoration theatre.
In 1670, Charles II gave 1.5 million square miles of North America (15% of the continent) to about twenty men, his friends, who formed the Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson Bay. Some of these fellows owned much of the south too – Florida, Virginia. They “created” Rupert’s Land. The fantastical creation of Rupert’s Land begins the (too often tragic for First Nations people) English colonial enterprise – a marriage of navigation, science, bureaucracy and new capitalism.
English Canada began in corruption and in theatre. That’s what The Players seeks to conjure.