October 4, 2007

An Infamous Army: Review

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An Infamous Army is the first book I've read from Georgette Heyer, the historical novelist. First published in 1937, Heyer's novels are now being released by Sourcebooks.

The Infamous Army of the title is led by the Duke of Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo. Much of the novel revolves around Lady Barbara Childe (Bab to her friends). She can best be described as the Paris Hilton of her day. Everything she does is scandalous, but she does it with such style that the other ladies are envious of her boldness. She flirts her way through the young officers stationed in Brussels awaiting war with Napoleon. She breaks hearts until she meets Colonel Charles Audley and finds she's met her match but of course things don't go as planned.

A complete 180 from the romance and glitz of the balls is the gore and carnage of the war. On June 15, 1815 right in the middle of a party, war is declared and the ladies are left wondering if their sweethearts, sons and brothers will come back to them alive. I've read both War & Peace and Vanity Fair but neither described the battles with as much bloody realism as Heyer does. Sometimes, for my own taste, Heyer went into the description of the battle too much. I couldn't follow who was where and what manoeuvres were done when. I'm not big on war stories. But the sights and the sounds of the battlefield brought me there with Wellington and his men.

The research for this novel must have been phenomenal: the clothes, the manners, the battle, very vividly written. I had trouble with all the Lord So-and-so's and Lady Who-what's-its but figured them out eventually. Plus, all the Brits were so heroic, I had a moment of irritation with them all. But I suppose the novel is a product of it's time.

This was a big book at 485 pages but all in all I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of her novels.

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Marg @ Reading Adventures

4 comments :

  1. Sounds interesting. I don't think I would enjoy violent battle scenes either but if the story is good, one can skim over them. Oh I like your Halloween decorations!

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  2. Woohoo! Love this review. We got a copy of the book for Estella's Revenge and it'll be going in the queue shortly.

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  3. I have a copy of this to read too. I haven't read any Heyer before either, so I am looking forward to it!

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