Naval fiction seems to be the theme for all my April reads so far, though this wasn’t a deliberate choice! I’ve been so enjoying this second circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s masterly series that Mauritius Command wound up jumping a few places up on my reading list. Book four in the series takes place a few years after the events of HMS Surprise and is based on the very real Mauritius campaign of 1810, putting our two protagonists right at the centre of it.
After last month’s series of Revolutionary/Napoleonic-era biographies, it was back to historical fiction for me as April opened. It’s been a long time since I read the Hornblower books – I think it must have been something like 2005 originally – and I took a notion this week that I wanted to go through both the novels and TV series again.
Although Mr Midshipman Hornblower was not the first book C.S. Forester wrote chronologically to feature the character, it is the book wherein Horatio Hornblower’s career in the navy first begins.
As you can probably tell from previous posts on this blog, I have a tremendous interest *cough*obsession*cough* in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. My bookshelves are packed full of biographies, studies of his campaigns and historical fiction set in the period in which he changed the face of Europe forever.
However, March is Women’s History Month and so this week I’ve been reading about his wife instead, in a fascinating biography by Professor Kate Williams. It made an interesting follower to last week’s biography of Marie Antoinette; containing as it did so many contrasts, similarities and parallels.
After enjoying Post Captain so much, I couldn’t really wait to get stuck into HMS Surprise, the third in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. It proved to be another excellent piece of Napoleonic naval fiction; rich in action and personal drama alike.
Happy New Year, everyone! After a couple of slightly lax months, it’s back to the book reviews.
My first read of 2019 was the fifth of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they feature an alternate history in which sentient dragons are teamed up with human captains to form the Aerial Corps, a branch of the armed services which exists alongside the army and navy.
Empire of Ivory is book four of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and was my weekend choice of reading for a train journey to Edinburgh and back.
Master & Commander has been the first of my 2018 books to be a reread rather than a first-time read. I can’t recall when I first read the novel, though I know it was before I left home for uni, but I do think I was a bit too young to really appreciate some of the nuance in it.
I was genuinely going to hold off on reading any more of the Temeraire series until I’d made my way through the last of the books I got in December and January. Then my husband bought me books three and four as a present and my resistance cracked. The series is just so enjoyable that I couldn’t wait to get cracking with the next one. I am weak, I tell you!
The Napoleonic period is one of the most fascinating in history. It was a time when truly ‘great’ characters changed the face of Europe forever: when a British, Spanish and Portuguese force under a (nominally) Irish general in the name of the German king of Britain fought a French, Polish and German force under the command of a low-born Coriscan who through the merit of his own genius had been proclaimed Emperor of the French. In addition to being a an absolute knot of nationalities and political finagling, it laid the foundations of our modern world.
I’ve been accruing books of every variety about this period since I was in my early teens and as my love of the period shows no sign of diminishing, I thought I would collate my top recommendations for Napoleonic reads for anyone looking to learn more about the period. Continue reading “The Napoleonic Wars: My Reading Recs”
This one took me a while; standing at over 800 pages of meticulously researched biography, it’s not the sort of thing you can just pick for a little light reading. Requiring full alertness to be properly enjoyed, I had to keep putting it down when work became mentally draining. As such, it took me months to work through, but my goodness, it was worth it!