Thursday, November 1, 2007

An Infamous Army

An Infamous Army
By Georgette Heyer
Reviewed by Iliana

In the past several years on various online reading communities when the topic of comfort reads comes up, it never fails that someone will always recommend Georgette Heyer. The “Queen” of regency romance wrote more than 50 novels but as much as I wanted to read something by Heyer, my efforts at finding some of her books were for naught. None of my local bookstores (new & used) carried her books but now thanks to Sourcebooks, Heyer's classic novels are being published once again.

An Infamous Army, first published in 1937, is set during the summer of 1815 in Brussels. The Duke of Wellington is preparing for battle against Napoleon's forces but amidst all the strategic planning and political maneuvers, the ballrooms and salons of the upper classes are brimming with gossip, affairs and matchmaking strategies and in this social scene no one makes quite an impact like the unconventional Lady Barbara Childe.

“It was the decision of all who knew her, and of many who did not. No one
could deny her beauty, or her charm, but both were acknowledged to be deadly.
Her conquests were innumerable; men fell so desperately in love with her that
they became wan with desire, and very often did extremely foolish things when
they discovered that she did not care the snap of her fingers for them.”

One such gentleman who will immediately fall for Lady Babs, as her friends call her, is the handsome and gallant Colonel Charles Audley. Why even at their first dance he proposes to her. Babs for the first time in her life may have found love but that doesn't mean that she is quite willing to give up her flirtatious ways.

Friends and family warn Col. Audley that Babs is not the woman for him and even his sister-in-law hopes that her protege, Miss Lucy Devenish will capture Charles' heart but Charles insists that Babs is the one for him. However matters of the heart for everyone in Brussels must be put aside as war is declared and men are called to the battlefields.

I wouldn't normally like a character such as Barbara Childe's. She is vain and can be quite mean at times, but for all that I actually couldn't help but smile at her improper behavior; such as, painting her toenails and going out riding by herself. And, I quite enjoyed the secondary characters as well although my favorite character must be Col. Audley, who is really the perfect hero.

The writing is engaging and I imagine Heyer did much research to infuse the novel with a lot of period detail. Perhaps the only parts that were not as compelling for me were the actual battle scenes, but that's just me. I much preferred when the battles were those of wit and words between the characters.

This was a very entertaining read and I can see why Heyer has such a fan base. I am glad to finally have read a Georgette Heyer book, and am already looking forward to the next one.


Anonymous said...

I had mixed feelings about Babs at first, too. I couldn't decide if she was just too haughty or if I admired her for her spunkiness and being willing to do what Society said she couldn't. In the end I thought she did redeem herself, though.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I thought Danielle. I was so happy she did redeem herself because I thought Charles was just too good and he deserved someone nice :)