An Infamous Army is a beautifully written novel about the romance between Lady Barbara Childe, an attractive, feisty and scandalous widow, and the honorable Captain Charles Audley, a respected member of the Duke of Wellington's staff.
Aware of the Lady's reputation for being a heartbreaker, but struck by her beauty, the dashing Colonel finds himself proposing to her during their first meeting. Believing that he is the man to change her wild ways and soften her hardened heart, Colonel Audley puts up with the many antics dealt to him by his deeply complex fianc‚e.
Their stormy on-again, off-again engagement is told parallel to beginning and end of the battle of Waterloo-a battle in which more than 47, 000 troops were lost and wounded between the two sides.
Physically separated by the battle and the breaking of their engagement, Lady Childe finds herself nursing wounded men on and off the streets of Brussels and eventually- with the man she loves away at war-Lady Childe comes to the realization of the depths of her love for the Colonel. Then, when he returns, wounded and ill, their love is finally rekindled and they begin a new, more comfortable and appreciative future together.
While I would still consider this book a work of Romantic Fiction, a large portion of it is historical fact and focuses on the battle of Waterloo, including Wellington's original words and letters. Toward the end of the book, the pace slows and the description of the battle becomes appallingly realistic and as heart wrenching as anything I have ever read.
Their courtship, along with the description of high society's frivolous lifestyle provides the perfect contrast to the devastating carnage of war. While An Infamous Army was originally written in 1937, because of its detail to love and loss in times of a horrendously violent and tragic war, it is still relevant and relatable today.
The descriptive, no-fluff writing seemed overwhelming to me in the beginning, but as I took the time to read it slowly, I found myself attached to the characters and really enjoyed the wonderful story that is balanced so well with historical fact. I think most readers will enjoy this book and that anyone who reads it should take the opportunity to enjoy it as I have..slowly and deliberately. At the end, I was emotionally wrecked, but feverishly eager to learn more about the historical facts displayed in the book. This is a book that I intend to read again, and again, and again.
The title of the book was also the Duke of Wellington's nickname for the armies who served under his command at Waterloo.
The Author Georgette Heyer was known as the Queen of Regency Romance and she was famous for the historical fact she incorporated into her fictional novels.
An Infamous Army is one of sourcebooks top 20 bestsellers list. (sourcebook.com)
IN THE SUMMER OF 1815, with Napolean Bonaparte marching down from the north, Brussels is a whirlwind of parties, balls and soirees. In the swirling social scene surrounding the Duke of Wellington and his noble aides de camp, no one attracts more attention than the beautiful, outrageous young widow Lady Barbara Childe. On their first meeting, dashing Colonel Charles Audley proposes to her, but even their betrothal doesn't calm her wild behavior. Finally, with the Battle of Waterloo raging just miles away, civilians fleeing and the wounded pouring back into the town, Lady Barbara discovers where her heart really lies, and like a true noblewoman, she rises to the occasion, and to the demands of love, life and war…