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, dashing 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...
©2000 Georgette Heyer; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I love Georgette Heyer's books, and I'm a sucker for romance. This novel is different from her usual fare, but I'm very glad I bought it.
It was slow to get started, reintroducing us to some familiar characters from her earlier novel, Regency Buck. I stuck with it, only to find that I hated the character of Barbara Childes, which meant I couldn't really take pleasure in the unfolding romance between her and Charles Audley.
It surprised me to find, however, about a third of the way through, that I was completely enthralled by the narration of the events surrounding the Battle Of Waterloo, rather than being caught up by the romantic elements of the story.
If I'd known this book was more to do with the Duke of Wellington defending against the advance of Napolean's army, I would probably never have bought it, and that would have been a great pity.
I was totally caught up in the details of the campaign, and Heyer's account of the final battle was by turns exciting and very moving.
In the end I even grew to quite like Barbara, which I hadn't previously thought possible! But overall I definitely give my 4 stars for Heyer's informative and moving account of the Battle of Waterloo, not for the romance.
This is a sequel to Regency Buck, or at least some of the characters reappear. It could easily be listened to as a stand-alone though.
The description of the battle of Waterloo is, apparently, so good it has been used at Sandhurst!
This is a magnificent book, but in a way it is 2 separate books. On one level it brings together the Alastairs and and the Taveners from These Old Shades, Devil's Cub and Regency Buck, completing their story. (Probably best appreciated if you listen to the earlier 3 first). It stands comparison with her other Regency books, though without the setting of Brussels on the eve of war it would not be as strong. It is that setting that lifts it head and shoulders above her others.
The set piece of the of Duchess of Richmond's Ball is so wonderfully evocative, as is the description of Brussels over that night and the following days. You really do get the sense of being there, and you care about it. Young men going to war is a universal theme that doesn't date.
And that is the other level - her record of the battle of Waterloo, and such a good, logical to understand description that I believe it was Gen Sir Brian Horrocks (you need to be as old as me to remember him on television) said it was the clearest account he had read. I certainly haven't read them all, but my husband has several weighty tomes I find hard to wade through. When I went to Waterloo a few years ago and stood at the top of The Lion's Mound (erected about where Slender Billy was injured) it was remembering this old friend that helped it all make sense. If that makes me facile, so be it, I just think this is a brilliant book.
As an audiobook? That is always down to the narration. Claire Higgins is wonderful. I've seen her act several times, she is a television character actor regular. This is the first time I've heard her narrate. She brings it all to life.
I'd give this 5+ Stars if it was available.
Quite Probably Addicted to Audible
This is a beautiful rendition of possibly my favourite Heyer Novel.
Clair Higgins brings real passion to all the characters.
I have been slowly revisiting Georgette Heyer's books I read all of them years ago but have enjoyed them again as audiobooks. This was not one of my favourite books all those years ago but I have thoroughly enjoyed this time. I listened with increasing horror drawn into the terrible world of one of the most iconic battles. Although there is a story involving some characters we had already met in a previous novel, in many ways the battle is central to the story. Beautifully narrated it unfolds vividly in your minds eye and adds depth and excitement to the story line. The characters in the story are drawn from the families who had made an appearance in Devils Cub and Regency Buck and although the book can be listened to as a 'stand alone' it adds another dimension to the storyline if these books have been listened to prior to an Infamous army.
The book is good however I found it difficult to maintain interest. I would like to read more of her books too get a better feel for her style
Heyer has created a remarkable story that ultimately provides a very accurate and complete accounting of the Battle of Waterloo within the context of the human relationships that were an integral part of the battle. Her main characters are very well drawn, each having many layers of complexity and showing considerable character development.
In An Infamous Army, Heyer has taken characters from two of her other novels, These Old Shades and Devil's Cub, and woven a tale from the next generation. All three are witty, highly entertaining and well-written, but this one weaves in to a much greater extent the history of the period and of, course, the battle. In my opinion, there is no better way to study history than to examine the feelings and decisions of the people who experienced it, and this book is outstanding from this perspective. I highly recommend it and would only recommend to Audible that a separate list of characters would be immensely hepful. However, the narrator does an outstanding job that enables the listener to keep them all straight and her French accent is excellent. For those who enjoy historical fiction and fine writing, this is an exceptional find.
"a visit to the battlefield"
An Infamous Army is a serious recounting of the battle of Waterloo, with an incidental relationship between a soldier and a pettish beauty around the edges (and unfortunately also featuring the wooden Worth and irritatingly-tamed Judith from Regency Buck). One of Heyer's substantial works, rather than in her light romantic vein. It's more likely to send you looking for a website showing the uniforms of Wellington's various soldiers than into a swoon. The account of the battle is mesmerizing and completely horrible. Unless you are made of very stern stuff, you'll weep buckets. Painstakingly researched and very well read.
"Not the typical Georgette Heyer novel..."
Georgette Heyer has been a favorite of mine for years. When I founds three of her historical novels on Audible, I downloaded them at once, leaving The Infamous Army until last, because it was the only one I had not read. Big, BIG mistake.
It differed so much from her other novels, I had difficulty believing it was written by the same author. I found The Infamous Army a total yawner.
Rather than a novel of the personalities and manners of the Regency period frosted with references to the historical events of the times, The Infamous Army is a very detailed history of the prelude to and Battle of Waterloo. The characters seemed to be dabbed in around the historical references to add some personal interest. Unfortunately, since the characters are the reason I read Georgette Heyer, I found this book extremely dissatisfying. There's one long-winded portion which gives the exact positions of all the different armies involved in the battle. I swear it lasted fifteen minutes, if it lasted one.
If you're interested in the Battle of Waterloo, by all means listen to this book. If you're looking for an entertaining Georgette Heyer novel, forget this one.
"A Great Account of Waterloo"
There were about 45 minutes of plot at the beginning of the book, about 30 minutes in the middle and 20 at the end. In between was a detailed and supposedly accurate account of the battle of Waterloo, including a great profile of Wellington. I recommend.
"Approximately 2/3 history, 1/3 romantic fiction"
As other reviewers have already written, this is not your typical Georgette Heyer novel (at least, it's not similar to the Heyer books that I've read so far). Heyer's characters are multi-layered and interesting, but this book focuses more on the historical events in which they're living, unlike her other novels that I've read, in which the characters and plot are the focus and the historical details are more in the background. The book is set mostly in Brussels prior to the Battle of Waterloo and includes the battle itself. Not being deeply interested in history myself, there were moments when I had to persevere through all of the information that is being imparted. If you enjoy military history (or just history, period) and enjoy seeing it through the eyes of interesting fictional characters, you will probably love this book. If you are just interested in reading a more typical Heyer novel, you may find your attention wandering a bit at times.
This book is part of a series, and this kept me reading in order to see what would happen next with the recurring characters (or their children & grandchildren) as they made appearances in the subsequent books. This is the order that I read them in, and I'd recommend that you do so, too: 1.) These Old Shades, 2.) Devil's Cub, and 3.) Regency Buck.
After you've read the above three books (and in that order), THEN I would read An Infamous Army so that you have as much understanding as possible of who each of the characters is and how they know or are related to the other characters. I had to make myself a "cheat sheet" describing who was whom when I first began this book, so that I could keep everyone straight. It's hard to see how similar in temperament and spirit that the new generation is to their grandparents, for example, if you can't keep the relationships straight. This is just a suggestion of something that worked for me. I'm glad I read this book, but it's not my favorite Heyer. Narration: excellent
"A History an English battlefield."
This is a detailed account of Wellington/Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo thinly deguised as a novel. The plot and character development is non existent . I gave it the number of stars for historical accuracy . Only
Recommended if you have an interest in military history.
Not your typical Georgette Heyer romance, however the story telling is remarkably her. This particular story is very rich in Waterloo history and detail. I was delighted she imported characters from 3 of her other novels, Regency Buck, Devils Cub and These Old Shades.
"Five stars for the story, zero for narrator!"
I love Georgette Heyer. I love historical novels. This? I barely finished listening to it.
Claire Higgins didn't distinguish voices at all: Trying to understand or follow conversations was headache-inducing. When she was reading the descriptions of the battle, it was fine, but every single conversation between the British characters - male or female - was done in the exact same voice, tone, and inflection. (Oddly, her distinction between French and Belgian characters was better) At least with a book, you have quotation marks to show that someone else is speaking.
Especially after listening to the previous books connected to this title (These Old Shades, Devil's Cub, and Regency Buck), this was such a disappointment.
I loved Devil's Cub and A Civil Contract, but I found this book impossible to get through. deadly dull. I only listened to the first hour or so, and then had to bail out. Georgette Heyer is usually a favorite, but I'd give this title a miss.
"This is the worst Georgette Heyer book!"
I LOVE Georgette Heyer books, so I was especially disappointed in this one! The title is very misleading as this book should be called "The War with Napoleon" or some such. It was really a history of that war! I will concede that Georgette Heyer really shows her intensive knowledge of all the battles of the Napoleonic Wars, the officers involved, and the outcome of each battle - - but I did't buy this book to learn history and battle details, but instead to listen to a historical romance novel with humor thrown in (which Heyer usually does). Listening to this book was like listening to fingernails on a blackboard. I kept hoping that a better part would be coming along, but it never did! I was so glad when the book was over. As for the narrator, she made no attempt at all to vary her voice depending on the character, but read the book in the same female voice no matter which character she was reading for. She is not a good narrator, and puts no real effort into making the book interesting to listen to. I was very disappointed in this particular book of Georgette Heyer's and hope she doesn't have any more like this one!
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