Tis the Season for Bling!

C3a6c7844469c0658b85d71301e58611Andrea here. Due to the frenzy of the holidays and various demands, I am invoking the Wenchly “Repost” Rule, where we occasionally share an oldie-but-goodie. Given that the holiday season is a time of glittering baubles and bright, festive colors, I thought I would re-share a post on Men in Uniform.

The original blog was inspired by the setting of MURDER AT THE SERPENTINE BRIDGE, Book 6 of my Wrexford & Sloane mystery—the famous Peace Celebrations which were held in London during June of 1814. I was struck by the pomp and splendor of the famous guests—especially the victorious military brass—who came from all over the Continent to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon (this is, the first defeat!) and his exile to the isle of Elba. War is ugly and brutal, leaving a trail of death, desolation and destruction in its wake. So it’s a terrible irony that the painted portraits of the military involved in the interminable Napoleonic Wars have a certain heroic splendor (not to speak of a penchant for over-the-top bling!)

What is it about about uniform festooned with a king’s ransom of gold braid and gaudy baubles that draws a fluttery sigh from the ladies? I confess, during the course of my research, I found myself pausing to admire the, er, eye candy. So, putting aside moral scruples to honor the superb artistry of the Regency painters, I thought I would share some of my favorite examples of Men in Uniform. (The Allied officers play some small cameo roles in my story!) Enjoy the view!

Horatio Nelson

Sir Sidney Smith

Joachim Murat
Auguste de Marmont

Louis-Nicolas d'Avout

Alexander I

Jean-de-Dieu Soult
From top to bottom: Charles Stewart; Horatio Nelson; Sir Sidney Smith; Joachim Murat; Auguste de Marmot; Napoleon; Louis-Nicolas d’Avout; Tsar Alexander I; Jean-de-Dieu Soult; Sir John Moore. (all images courtesy of Wikicommons )

So what about you? Does a man in uniform draw a fluttery sigh? (And even if Santa isn’t putting a hunky military hero under the tree, best wishes to all our Wenchly readers for a happy holiday season filled with good cheer—and good books!)

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History—and Heroes!

Lieutenant-general-sir-john-moore-allied-commanders-of-the-napoleonic-war-by-john-romneyAndrea here. As I’ve mentioned here before, along with my Wrexford & Sloane historical mystery series, I’m working on a new book project in a new-to-me genre within historical fiction— a biography “reimagining” the life of Lady Hester Stanhope, an extraordinary real-life woman from the Regency era.

I Engraving of Mooren other words, it’s a book that meant to stay accurate to her real life and personality, but requires an author’s imagination to create the story and dialogue that will make her come alive for readers. It’s been a fascinating challenge. I’ve done a lot of research, which I love, and am lucky that Lady Hester was a member of a very prominent family, so many of her letters have been saved, which give special window into her thoughts and feelings.

But I’m digressing from the main topic of this blog, which is how these deep-dive research forays, where one reads as much as possible about a person’s life can become “personal” in very unexpected ways. I have a confession to make! In looking at the three men who were Lady Hester’s love interests, I have come to have a “crush” on one of them— Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore

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PoppyHi, Jo here composing this on Remembrance Day in the UK, which we mark by wearing poppies. That's not the sort of poppy that bloomed around the trenches in WWI, but it's a picture of my own. There's a famous poem that begins,

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
 Between the crosses, row on row…"

If you don't know it, you can read the rest here. In the end it seems to be pro-war, so I have mixed feelings about it. You?

Let's talk about soldiers in historical fiction. I felt sure that I'd done this subject before, but I've done a skim through the archives and haven't found it, so here goes. Most of us never experience war, either as soldiers or civilians caught up in war, and I'm sure most people are as grateful as I am about that. And yet, war and warriors have strong appeal in fiction going back to Beowulf and beyond. Sharpe

I honestly don't know how I feel about this, for to me war seems all wrong. There has to be a better way. That's probably why I haven't used war as a setting for any of my Georgian or Regency stories, and mostly avoided it in my medievals. I've had some soldier heroes, but not many, and not on active duty. At the same time I have enjoyed some active soldier heroes. I regard Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe etc) as a guilty pleasure because his military heroes don't suffer doubts about right or wrong, and in some cases revel in battle. I suspect he captures warriors of the past more accurately than most modern writers and I enjoy his books. Comment?

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