Skip to main content

Review: The Campaigners, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


Pages: 580

Original date of publication: 1990

My edition: 2006 (Sphere)

Why I decided to read: it’s a continuation of the Morland series

How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, September 2009

#14: Spring-summer 1815; covers the Battle of Waterloo

As Napoleon’s reign comes to its inevitable end and the allied troops converge for a last, decisive battle, the beau monde of English society gather in Brussels, essentially creating their own little society there, complete with cricket matches and balls and coming out parties. Lucy and Heloise, now respectable matrons, take Rosamund and Sophie there for their coming out, as James Morland (back in England) attempts to deal with the devastating loss of his daughter, Fanny. In Brussels, Rosamund deals with her feelings for Marcus, and Sophie falls in love with a French major. It seems that the only man not in uniform is Bobbie, Earl of Chelmsford.

This is a very strong addition to the series, again, with some very strong characters and character development. The titles of the books in this series often have a double meaning; in this case, you could consider Rosamund and Sophie as kind of campaigners in the marriage market, even as Wellington and his men campaign against Napoleon. Although the outcome of the war is of course well known, I found myself invested enough in the characters to care about who survives this particular chapter of history—or not. The novel features many returning characters, but introduces a nice collection of new ones that I hope to see in future installments of the series. Plus, there’s that rivalry between Benedict and Nicholas, still children here, which threatens to blow into a full conflict later on…

The author’s descriptions of the period are excellent, describing as they do the calm before the storm, so to speak: the day to day lives of people in English society, leading up to that famous ball on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, and through the battle itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Harrod-Eagles is especially skilled at battle scenes. Once again the Morland family has a front-row seat to what’s going on, and are indeed active participants. It’s an interesting way to learn about history, especially since I don’t know much about the 19th century pre-Victoria. Military history seems to be something that Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is passionately interested in, as seen in the descriptions of the battle at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

Comments

Teresa said…
When I got to this book, I declared it my favorite in the series, until I got to the next, which was almost as good. I just finished #18, which dwells on Nicholas and Benedict, and I'm surprised to realize that they first showed up so far back!

And you're right on about her writing of battle scenes. She's one of the best writers of battles that I've encountered.
Marg said…
I really need to hurry up and read the next book in this series (she says despite the fact that she is returning it to the library unread yet again tonight!). I have really enjoyed the few books I have read, and I expect to continue to enjoy them. Just have to make the time.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…