Two fascinating blogs this week, one by Jean on All About Romance and one by Lauren Willig on History Hoydens examined the tendency in historical fiction to write from the English perspective when it comes to British/French conflicts, particularly in regards to the Napoleonic Wars. Both post were very timely for me as this past week I finished the first draft of my Waterloo book (just making my self-imposed December 1 deadline :-)).
While most of the major characters in the book are British (whether real people like the Duke of Wellington, Lord Fitzroy Somerset, and Lady Caroline Lamb, or fictional characters such as Charles/Malcolm, Aline, David, and Simon), Mélanie/Suzanne is of course a French agent. The last third or so of the book takes place during the Battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo and moves between the battlefield and Brussels. Charles goes back and forth between the two. Mel is in Brussels, helping tend the wounded (their house resembles a makeshift hospital). David, Simon, Aline, and the other British characters are as on tenterhooks for news of the battle. So is Mélanie, but in a very different way. And then when everyone round her is celebrating victory, she’s dealing with the final end of a tarnished dream. Raoul is practically the only character she can talk to openly (it was interesting writing scenes between them when she’s still spying).
Waterloo is so iconic, but most of the fiction I’ve read about it is written from the British perspective. Though one of my historical romances, “Shores of Desire”, deals with Waterloo and had a French hero and a Scottish heroine. I thinking writing about Waterloo from a slightly different perspective is what gives me the guts to take on something that’s been written about so much and so well.
What do you think about the way English/French conflicts, particularly the Napoleonic Wars, are handled in historical fiction? What novels have you read that offer perspectives you find particularly interesting?
From now through the end of the year, I’ll be drawing the name of one commenting each week and giving away a copy of the gorgeous Advance Reading Copies of Vienna Waltz. I’ll post the winner next Saturday, December 11, so be sure to check back and then look for a new contest next week.
I’ve also just posted a new letter to the Fraser Correspondence from Raoul to Mélanie.