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An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer

An Infamous Army (1937)

by Georgette Heyer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alastair-Audley (Book 4)

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8752410,139 (3.65)93
  1. 10
    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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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
When this starts, set in Brussels in the spring of 1815, you just know that the Battle of Waterloo is going to feature. And feature it does. The final third of the book is a pretty intensive description of the battle, and it doesn't pull its punches. this may start looking like a regency romance, but it ends in a very different place. There is romance (not the most convincing of romances, either of them, if I'm honest), but there is a great deal of descriptive effort. Almost smacks of "I've done my research, you can read all of it". Lots of uniforms, lots of suffering, lots of guns and ordinance. I'm hard pressed to be sure if this should be recommended to a lover of romance or a military history buff - probably both would find is dissatisfying. The cast of characters is wide and varied. Some of them are more believable than others, Barbara, for example, I couldn't make out, but Judith strikes me as one of those women who supported their husbands and made them make Britain great. Not the best I've read, but it had enough to keep it interesting. ( )
  Helenliz | Jan 22, 2015 |
Eh. It took me a long time - well past half the book - before I cared at all about the characters, including the hero and heroine. They did come to life, finally, but not until just before the battle. And the other characters who were or should have been familiar were mostly annoying - Worth is snarky but not amusing, Judith is utterly conventional (until near the end), the latest generation of the Alastairs don't have either Justin's or Dominic's fire. Vidal is infuriating and so is his wife - a fleshy and conventional Alistair? And Peregrine continues to be an idiot. The setting was mostly annoying - I didn't mind the descriptions of clothes and balls, I'm used to that in Regencies, but page after page of names with little descriptions for some of them...I didn't know, or care, who any of those people were. I'm sure they were actually there...but the only purpose in listing them seems to have been to show off Heyer's research on the battle and its runup. And once the battle got started, various groups were described by a random assortment of titles (Carabiniers, the 92nd, (person's name)'s column) - half the time I couldn't tell which of them were Allied and which French. Which made it impossible to keep track of the battle, and very difficult to be interested in the whole mess. So neither the war, nor the romance interested me much - I'm pleased that Babs and Charles finally ended up together, mildly amused at Lucy (and I wonder what George really thinks of the matter), but overall the book produced a yawn. I don't think I'll reread. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Aug 31, 2014 |
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 |
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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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