Tides of War: A Novel of the Peninsular War
Set in Regency London and Spain 1812-1815, this novel recounts in short scenes, or vignettes, the key points in the lives of people brought together by the requirements of the Peninsular War. It is beautifully written, but there are things that may deter those looking for a typical Regency read. Over sixty characters are introduced before page 62, with the result that it is initially hard to grasp who is a leading player and who has only a bit part. Gradually the main players become clear, and their individual stories are engaging. The plot contrasts the women, left alone in London to go about their business with a growing sense of freedom and independence, with the men enduring the brutal realities of the Spanish battlefield. The characters are well-drawn, from Lady Wellington, who deals with her husband’s many bastards, to the enigmatic Heaton, who takes his dog to war with him.
Many will enjoy this book, and others will find, as I did, the endlessly changing viewpoints grow irritating. More than once I clicked my tongue in annoyance because the author had ‘closed’ the vignette and moved to another character, or set of characters, often in a different country, and with a different set of problems. The historical detail, of gas lighting, blood transfusions, and entrepreneurs, is accurate and impressive but could become intrusive for some readers.