Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

Written by Andrew Miller
Review by Thomas j. Howley

British Cavalry Captain John Lacroix returns home from fighting the French in Spain in 1809 suffering from physical and mental wounds. He is initially bedridden and unresponsive as he is left in the company of a nanny at his ancestral estate. As he laboriously emerges from his injuries, he is haunted by hideous memories of the atrocities he witnessed during the debacle of the British Army’s humiliating retreat from Napoleon’s forces.  Lacroix comes to the decision to find sanctuary on the remote Hebrides islands off Scotland rather than rejoin his unit. He is not aware that a sociopathic English corporal and refined Spanish officer are hunting him.

He eventually and unceremoniously makes his way to a small island, where he encounters a tight group of English people seeking their own utopia. Lacroix becomes smitten by a simple but enticing woman and later volunteers to see she gets needed medical attention on the mainland as the climactic showdown with his pursuers becomes imminent.

This book is expertly researched and captures the venues and feelings of the period exceptionally well.  Interestingly, Medina, the Spanish officer, seems the height of civilization compared to the British land and people he encounters.  In contrast, Lacroix remembers Spain as being primitive and decrepit.  This book is literary fiction, which seems to explain so much telling and what I found to be voluminous wordiness, but the storyline, tension, and drama made up for much of that. I suspect literary fiction readers will relish it.