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The Women's War by Alexandre Dumas
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The Women's War (1844)

by Alexandre Dumas

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Showing 4 of 4
4 stars for the story; barely 1 star for the ending. Really, Dumas? ( )
  ErinMa | Feb 22, 2019 |
Intrigue, deception, romance, treachery, loyalty, bravery, hidden (and deliberately confused) identities -- although no book can match the totally wonderful The Count of Monte Cristo, in this novel Dumas does not disappoint the reader looking for fast-paced action and plot twists and turns (and some fascinating characters, as well).

The Women's War took place in the mid-17th century. After Louis XIII died, his widow, known as Anne of Austria for her place of birth, took over as regent for the still underage Louis XIV. Her rule was contested by the brother and cousin of Louis XIII, known collectively as the princes; they were imprisoned and the wife of the cousin, the Princesse de Condé, took over as the leader of the rebellion. Hence, the women's war. This war is historical fact, and Dumas read contemporary and historical works about it, but then, as Robin Buss details in the introduction to his new translation, published by Penguin Classics, he developed his own plot, introducing fictional characters as well as changing some of the roles of historical characters.

So there is also a women's war in the heart of the Baron de Canolles, who plays a major role in this novel (although not, apparently, in actual history), as he loves both Nanon de Lartigues, who is the mistress of one of the leaders of the Queen's cause, and Claire, who is a supporter of the princess. Another important character is the devilishly evil brother of Nanon, who chooses a variety of false identities over the course of the novel and who can be counted on (up to a crucial moment) to do the very thing that will cause the most problems.

I don't want to detail the plot because the way Dumas keeps its twists and turns going -- and the reader on the edge of her chair -- is too delightful. Suffice it to say that identity deception and confusion play major roles, as does the scheming of most of the characters. Dumas also describes vividly both the intensity of several sieges and attacks and the back-and-forth among the queen's and the princess's advisors (some of whom are historical characters). And there is a swashbuckling component as well. Although it petered out a little at the very end, this was a fun summer read!
4 vote rebeccanyc | Aug 28, 2014 |
This is my favourite Dumas book that I have read so far. It follows the standard of all his works - intrigue, romance, doom - but I found the story of Baron de Canolles captivating. It is certainly a book that I will always have in my collection, and will read and re-read. If you are a Dumas fan, you should really give it a try. ( )
  gavieb | Aug 13, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alexandre Dumasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buss, RobinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buss, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The Baron des Canolles is a man torn apart by the civil wars known as the Fronde that dominated mid-17th century France. For while the naive Gascon soldier cares little for the politics behind the battles, he is torn apart by a deep passion for two powerful women on opposing sides of the war: Nanon de Lartigues, a keen supporter of the Queen Regent, Anne of Austria; and the Vicomtesse de Cambes, who supports the rebellious forces of the Princesse de Condé. During this time, the women of these princely and noble families were its heroes. Set around Bordeaux during the first turbulent years of the reign of Louis XIV, The Women's War sees two women taking central stage in a battle for all France. Humorous, dramatic and romantic, it offers a compelling exploration of political intrigue, the power of redemption, the force of love and the futility of war.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140449779, Paperback)

A swashbuckling novel by the author of The Three Musketeers

Set in the same period as his best-known novel, Alexandre Dumas’s “forgotten masterpiece” (Le Monde) features two steely and preternaturally modern heroines fighting on opposite sides of the wars that ravaged seventeenth-century France. An unabashed page-turner, humorous, dramatic, and crackling with panache, this new English translation—the first in more than 100 years—shows Dumas at the peak of his powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:05 -0400)

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