An Infamous Army: A Novel of Wellington, Waterloo, Love and War

Written by Georgette Heyer
Review by Audrey Braver

This is a well-documented account of the Battle of Waterloo from the British army’s point of view. The social events surrounding and leading up to the battle form the background on and provide gossipy color for Regency society. Most of the ton, apparently, was in Brussels at the time. There were soirees and balls, and debutantes with their marriage-minded mothers; officers even brought their wives and children. The hero, Charles Audley, an adjutant to Wellington, attends one of the balls and is immediately struck down by Cupid’s arrow at the sight of the ton’s leading femme fatale, Barbara Childe—much to the chagrin of his sister-in-law, who has her own favorite candidate for his hand. Social life and courtships follow the same course they have in past seasons in London right up to the Countess of Richmond’s ball, when a courier from the front rides in and announces that, at last, Napoleon has pounced. Naturally, Wellington is featured and is quoted from a letter he wrote in May, 1815, as saying that he has “…got an infamous army…”

Miss Heyer, who died in 1974, is probably best known for her Regency novels. She was, however, also an accredited author of historical novels. Her research was impeccable for its accuracy. She wrote with a well-developed sense of humor that has made her immensely popular, and she had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Regency period. An Infamous Army, first published in 1937, stands up well among today’s historical novels.