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An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer
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An Infamous Army (1937)

by Georgette Heyer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alastair-Audley (Book 4)

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8522310,533 (3.66)84
  1. 00
    Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (arctangent)
    arctangent: Some of the main characters from An Infamous Army appear first in Regency Buck.
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English (21)  Swedish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This felt like reading two genres in one book. First, there’s the humorous romanticism that Ms Heyer is so famous for – and so good at – and second there’s a full-scale military campaign, creating a completely different tone.

It’s not that the military side is badly written, as the author has done thorough research and her writing skills are top notch, but for me the swapping and changing from the “classic Heyer” style to the “What’s happening with Napoleon?” in the first half of the book doesn’t gel. Further on, the witty romantic feel virtually disappears to be fully replaced by the Battle of Waterloo and its bitter aftermath.

As mentioned, Ms Heyer’s writing is good, but to me this mix ’n’ match genre doesn’t work. I feel she would’ve been better off writing two shorter books, with one focusing on a Waterloo and its build-up, and another set in Brussels at the time but with the more serious events going on left as a backdrop, rather than a feature that keeps coming to the fore.

Another thing that stopped this book appealing to me as much as others that I’ve read by this author was the amount of characters involved. It took me till Chapter 4 before I started to visualise the main protagonists. The opening chapter introduces far too many characters at one go, ultimately confusing the reader – well, this one at least.

On the plus side, there is some great dialogue throughout the book, as one would expect from Georgette Heyer. The exchanges between Charles and Barbara were especially entertaining. ( )
1 vote PhilSyphe | Aug 26, 2014 |
Although this is an excellent historical fiction of the Battle of Waterloo (and the months leading up to it in Brussels), it isn't one of Heyer's books that I like very much. Upon this reread, I have finally figured out why -- the character of Judith Worth. I liked Judith Taverner very much in Regency Buck but in this one, she has become conventional and slightly stupid. There is also much less humor in this, which is reasonable considering its topic but still missed. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 25, 2014 |
An Infamous Army, sometimes described as the third book in Georgette Heyer's Alastair Trilogy, is actually the sequel to a number of the author's earlier works, bringing together characters from three different storylines. The tale of dazzling Lady Barbara Childe, and her tempestuous engagement to Colonel Charles Audley, it is also the story of the prelude to, and conduct of, the famous battle of Waterloo. I understand that it is considered one of the finest descriptions ever written of that conflict, and has been used as a text at various military academies. In her introduction, the noted historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff describes it as Heyer's finest book, the one "that stands tall above all the others, though it may not be the one for which we are best known."

Heyer readers will instantly recognize in Lady Barbara's grandparents the characters of Dominic and Mary, whose adventures are detailed in Devil's Cub, just as they will recognize Justin and Leonie of These Old Shades in her great-grandparents. Charles Audley, on the other hand, is first to be encountered in Heyer's light-hearted romance, Regency Buck, as is Lady and Lord Worth, and Sir Peregrine Taverner and his wife Harriet. Mention is also made of Harry Smith, the hero of The Spanish Bride, whose appearance in An Infamous Army is limited to one brief cameo during the course of the battle.

This wealth of associations with other Heyer titles should please her long-time readers, whose enjoyment of the story will be enhanced, I believe, by having read Devil's Cub, These Old Shades, and Regency Buck first. Although not strictly necessary for an understanding of the plot, these earlier novels will provide background knowledge of some of the characters' history and temperament, and give the story added poignancy.

I was tempted to give this novel five stars, as I am of the same mind as Ms. Sutcliff above, and consider An Infamous Army one of Heyer's finest works, intellectually engaging and emotionally involving. Her historical scholarship and research are top-notch, and I came away with a better understanding of this extraordinary moment in history, as well as a desire to learn more. The personal, romantic story was very moving, and Lady Bab and Charles are among the author's most believable and lovable characters.

The trouble, as many other reviewers have noted, is that the two strands of Heyer's narrative don't always sit very well together. They are both excellent, in their way, but it is almost as if one were reading two separate (but interconnected) novels, switching back and forth between them. This sense of disconnect was somewhat jarring, and prevents me from awarding this a full five stars.

However that may be, An Infamous Army offers the reader many rewards, from its wonderful portrait of Wellington, its moments of tender romance, and its heart-breaking scenes of human loss in the midst of the carnage of battle. Highly recommended to all readers, whether they are in the habit of reading Georgette Heyer or not... ( )
3 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jun 24, 2013 |
Interestingly, I found my second Georgette Heyer to be sequel of first one I have ever read, Regency Buck. Needless to say Judith is now married to Earl of Worth, this is now story of her brother-in-law Colonel Charles Audley (honestly, have not figured out yet why two brothers have different last name, surely a detail I missed in first book). Colonel Audley falls in love with a beautiful widow called Lady Barbara Childe, who in English society is something of a scandalous character. She flirts and manipulates men at her whims and takes pleasure to flaunt all 'laws' that Regency period dictates for women.

However, book is not about love rather it is the setting that is most important. It is set in the backdrop of Battle of Waterloo and Duke of Wellington is very much an important character of the book. Duke's thoughts, strategies, quotes and lastly his balls even the one just before war begins has been covered in detail. Needless to say, famous Heyer research is apparent. Battlefield updates and strategies have also been detailed with meticulous care. More than a love story this should be treated as historical fiction of the period. ( )
  poonamsharma | Apr 6, 2013 |
I'm sure I've heard some Georgette Heyer fans recommend this one, but it's pretty much my least favorite so far. I enjoyed the first two in the Alastair Trilogy ([b:These Old Shades|311182|These Old Shades (Alistair, #1)|Georgette Heyer|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173644611s/311182.jpg|2682162] and [b:Devil's Cub|311308|Devil's Cub (Alistair, #2)|Georgette Heyer|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320409712s/311308.jpg|1964370]) much more. The Alastairs are a noble family with ongoing ties to France, and a reputation for hot tempers, risk-taking, etc. The trilogy begins in about 1760; the second book is set in pre-Revolutionary France, maybe around 1780; and the third is set in Brussels just before Waterloo. That's the problem. Heyer apparently always wanted to write about Waterloo, did a lot of research, and it shows. It shows too much -- I was constantly skimming through endless lists of generals and troop movements to get to the story. I also didn't think either of the love stories was as believable as those in Heyer's other work. It still held my interest, but is definitely not my favorite. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Higgins, ClareNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The youthful gentleman in the scarlet coat with blue facings and gold lace, who was seated in the window of Lady Worth's drawing-room, idly looking down into the street, ceased for a moment to pay any attention to the conversation that was in progress.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449232638, Mass Market Paperback)

Historical romance opening in Brussels before the battle of Waterloo.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:48 -0400)

In 1815, beneath the aegis of the Army of Occupation, Brussels is the gayest town in Europe. And the widow Lady Barbara Childe, renowned for being as outrageous as she is beautiful, is at the centre of all that is fashionable and light-hearted. When she meets Charles Audley, the elegant and handsome aide-de-camp to the great Duke of Wellington himself, her joie de vivre knows no bounds - until the eve of the fateful Battle of Waterloo.… (more)

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