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An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer

An Infamous Army (original 1937; edition 1977)

by Georgette Heyer

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1,0132812,551 (3.64)122
Title:An Infamous Army
Authors:Georgette Heyer
Info:Fawcett (1977), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:read 2008, historical fiction, historical romance

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An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (1937)

  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 27 (next | show all)
Waterloo with a romance between two unlikely people.
  TanyaRead | Jun 3, 2018 |
I had read this before, but now I've read it again on the kindle. It is readable, of course, and gives a fascinating detailed account of the battle of Waterloo. I had forgotten the love story so I didn't know what exactly would happen.
  franoscar | Jul 14, 2016 |
Colonel Audley enters a ballroom in Brussels and immediately falls in love with rakish young widow Lady Barbara Childe. (She is the granddaughter of Dominic and Mary from [b:Devil's Cub|311308|Devil's Cub (Alastair, #2)|Georgette Heyer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1386920835s/311308.jpg|1964370], and he is the younger brother of Lord Worth from [b:Regency Buck|311127|Regency Buck (Alastair, #3)|Georgette Heyer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388411281s/311127.jpg|9667210].) She is equally drawn to him, and they seem to unconsciously understand each other in a way that none of their acquaintance can fathom. Barbara feels fenced in by all the limits on her life (girl can't even paint her toenails without everyone gossiping, goddamn!) and rebels by trying to scandalize Audley into leaving her. At last they have a vicious fight, say things they regret, and break their engagement. Shortly thereafter, Audley is called up to take part in the fight against Napoleon, at the Battle of Waterloo.

The battle is recounted in astounding detail for the next approximately hundred and fifty pages. It is sometimes very difficult to follow. Here's an example: "Hew Halkett was brought up in support of the Brunswickers on Maitland's right; Du Plat was formed on the slope behind Hougoumont; and Adam's brigade, forming line four deep, came up to fill the interval between the Brunswickers and Hougoumont." I could hardly keep straight which officers were Allies and which part of Napoleon's forces (a chore not made easier by the fact that this is the first I'd heard of these names, and a number of French-named people fought for the Allies), nor which names were officers, which were regiments, and which were place names! (In the quoted example, for instance, Hougomont is actually a farmhouse, not a regiment, but I only figured this out halfway through the battle because it was never actually stated.) But Heyer interjects human notes as well, and alternates the technical recounting with stirring, bloody anecdotes, like: "Roaring at his officers to follow him, Macdonnell launched himself across the courtyard. Hatless, with nothing but a sword in his hand, he fell upon the French in the gateway, and with such force that they broke involuntarily, as they would have before the charge of a mad bull. His officers and a few sergeants rushed to his support. For an instant the French were scattered; and while a couple of ensigns and two sergeants held them at bay, Macdnonell and Sergeant Graham set their shoulders to the double doors, and forced them together, the sweat pouring down their faces and the muscles standing out like corrugations down their powerful thighs."
The way Heyer describes Wellington's squares of infantry standing against repeated attacks, and making the best use of even little swells in geography, convinced me of his strategic skill. Heyer's account of Waterloo was apparently masterful enough to be taught in military academies, but it doesn't make for a great novel. It's too broad: every piece of the action is recounted, often very quickly and with no explanation. She has Audley constantly traveling to each part of the battlefield in order to narrate the entire battle, when I think just concentrating on a single part of the action would have been both more comprehensible to the general reader and had just as much narrative urgency. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |

Heyer is of course one of the twentieth century's most prolific and best-known romance novelists, and many people whose opinions I respect hold her in high regard. It's not a genre I know, and I'd never previously read any of her work. I understand that An Infamous Army is fairly standalone in Heyer's historical timeline, with just a few characters shared with other books - the second written of her famous Regency romances.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Heyer's focus is on the aristocratic Englishwomen accompanying the British forces to Belgium, and there is of course a central love affair - between two fairly mature characters, a widow and a veteran soldier - to satisfy those who aren't into the military stuff. But I think she does a very good job of portraying the geopolitical situation of Napoleon's return and the uncertainty of where or how the Allies might respond, much better than I have seen elsewhere in fiction, starting from the spring of 1815 and going through to the day after the battle ends. She has her characters go for a picnic to Waterloo in an early chapter, which of course gives her an excuse to set up the topography of the battle without forcing the pace. My only gripes are that while she's very convincing about the battlefield, her Brussels geography feels a bit more wobbly; and I'm also not convinced that the Duke of Wellington and the Duchess of Richmond would have addressed each other as "Duke" and "Duchess" (formally, it should of course be "your Grace"; informally, they would surely have had nicknames for each other).

In particular, this 1937 novel has a conviction about the horror of war that I did not find in Stendhal or Cornwell. The Englishwomen at the centre of the narrative switch from partying to nursing with dismay but also determination. Heyer was born in 1902, and her father fought in the trenches of the first world war; by the time she wrote this, the next global conflict was looming, and it's impossible not to read the shades of Guernica and the foreshadowing of Dunkirk and Nornandy between the lines of her Waterloo. This was my first Heyer novel, but it won't be my last. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jun 21, 2015 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ehm, EmiTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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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Book description
In the summer of 1815, beneath the aegis of the Army of Occupation, Brussels is the gayest town in Europe. And the red-haired widow Lady Barbara Childe, renowned for being as outrageous as she is beautiful, is at the centre of the social whirl and of all that is fashionable and light-hearted. However, the city was a nest of intrigue --Napoleon threatened Europe--but the talk was only of this dazzling and tempestuous young. Every brilliant ball, supper, and concert in the feverish spring seemed to bring her a new conquest by storm. She is the talk of the ton. She flirts shamelessly, dresses outrageously, and scandalizes polite society. That doesn't stop one of her adorers--the dashing Colonel Charles Audley, an aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington-- from falling madly in love with the beautiful young widow--and proposing marriage. Threatened by the growing tide of scandal, she allowed Colonel Charles Audley to claim her for his bride.

The eve of the fateful Battle of Waterloo, their betrothal falls apart. It isn't until Charles marches off to fight Napoleon that Barbara discovers where her heart lies. Now, she can do nothing but wait as the battle rages, praying for the safety of the one man who can set her free from her wild impulses. But as the clouds of war gathered, he turned from her in a sudden, mysterious indifference. Stunned, bewildered, Barbara wondered what secret she must fathom, what new seduction must she devise, to regain the one man who--she ruefully realized--had truly claimed her heart?
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the summer of 1815, with Napoleon Bonaparte marching down from the north, Brussels is a whirlwind of parties, balls, and soirees. In the swirling social scene surrounding the Duke of Wellington and his noble aides de camp, no one attracts more attention than the beautiful, outrageous young widow Lady Barbara Childe. On their first meeting, dashing Colonel Charles Audley proposes to her, but even their betrothal doesn't calm her wild behaviour. Finally, with the Battle of Waterloo raging just miles away, civilians fleeing and the wounded pouring back into the town, Lady Barbara discovers where her heart really lies, and like a true noblewoman, she rises to the occasion, and to the demands of love, life and war ...… (more)

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