An Irregular Regiment

Written by Lynn Bryant
Review by India Edghill

The setting is the Napoleonic Wars, and the subtitle is: A Novel from the Battle of Bussaco to the Battle of Sabugal, which is about as much plot as you’re going to get from me on this one. As the novel opens, Major Paul van Daan, his new wife, Anne, and his regiment, the 110th, are given a new assignment by General Wellington, and it sounds dead boring: coordinating supplies and men to ensure that Wellington’s army can keep fighting the French. But when Paul enters a story, boredom promptly exits as fast as possible. Instead of major battles, Paul finds himself fighting a very different kind of campaign, as he must serve under one of the army’s worst commanding officers, and learns that etiquette has its place, just as cannon have theirs, and that “diplomacy” and “compromise” are also weapons.

Between skirmishes, battles, the arrival of an old enemy, trying to train new officers in his own style of leadership, and, on the social front, fighting malicious gossip and sneers at his wife (who is a very skilled surgeon—and Anne thought stitching those samplers was a total waste of time!), Paul’s got his hands full. Paul’s is a very irregular regiment indeed—and despite occasionally awkward writing and a relatively slender plot, the book’s an enjoyable read.