Heyer's An infamous army, Part III

Hey, all! It's another edition of DocTurtle's review of Georgette Heyer's An infamous army! For more romance-related hilarity, visit SB Sarah and her friends at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Part 3: Chapters 9 through 13

Oh, the intrigue! This most recent installment of my Regency Romance Cliff’s Notes finds Bab flirting with Peregrine Taverner, her brother flirting with Lucy Devenish, Charles more and more busied by the buzzing of a quick-coming war, and the Duke of Wellington continuing to bitch about how ill-prepared is his infamous army for Napoleon “Don’t Call Me ‘Boney’” Bonaparte’s onslaught of Belgium.

Chapter 9. Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

We continue on a jaunty country outing with several of our story’s principles. Charles having been spirited away by his military duties, he entrusts Lady Barbara to his family in order that her going abroad with M. le Comte de Lavisse will not be misinterpreted by the prying public. And so to a charming Château near Merbe Braine on the Nivelles Road go Bab, Lady Judith, Peregrine Taverner and his Harriet, the Count, and all of their assorted footmen and retainers. What a way to go!

A hint of foreshadowing frames their merrymaking, as en route to their destination the party passes a small village named (dum dum DUUUUM!) Waterloo.

Oh, yeah, and Harriet’s miffed that should she permit him to do so Peregrine would gallop off after the ever-enchanting Bab.

Chapter 10. This book’s got more rakes than Home Depot’s lawn and garden section

When Lord George Alastair, Bab’s older brother, makes landfall in Belgium, his first stop is at his family’s home on the Rue Ducale. Finding his younger sister is out, he hunts her down at the Worth’s where yet another ball is taking place. He doesn’t make it past the foyer before setting his sights on that vision of unassuming loveliness, Lucy Devenish.

It would seem that George and Lucy had met before in Britain:

“It was a little more than that. I became acquainted with him when I was staying in Brighton with my cousins last year. There was a degree of intimacy which—which I could not avoid.” Her voice failed. Judith suspected that the attentions of a dashing young officer had not been wholly unwelcome. She had not doubt that Lord George has speedily overstepped the bounds of propriety, and understood, with ready sympathy, Lucy’s feelings upon being confronted with him again. (p. 165)

What, he saw her wrists?!? Oh noes!

All joking aside, our Lucy’s finding herself in quite the pretty pickle.

Chapter 11. Blücher!

I can’t be the only one who thinks of Young Frankenstein on mention of the Prussian General.

One of the commenters on Judge a Book By Its Cover found it hard to keep track of all of the names being bandied about. You ain’t kiddin’, sister! Chapter 11, in which we’re subjected to yet more war preparations and—quelle surprise!—a ball! piles on more names than the Book of Genesis.

But if you’re a fan of eye-gougingly, hair-pullingly punctilious (and doubtless historically accurate) description of military dress, this chapter’s for you. Ms. Heyer could outfit a member of the Brunswick Light Dragoons with her eyes closed.

Most amusing-when-taken-out-of-context line (a.k.a., Vietnamese cuisine only goes so far): “Pho! A precious lot of comfort we shall have when we go into action!”

Chapter 12. More o’ the same

We begin with twelve straight pages of military movements, army massings, and other assorted martial goings-on. The whole narrative is tied together with the Duke’s everlasting exasperated ejaculations: “I have got an infamous army, very weak, and ill-equipped, and a very inexperienced staff,” and “Matters look a little serious on the frontier.”

For once Bab says something agreeable: “I can’t think. I’m bored to tears, Charles!...I am tired of your duty, Charles. It is so tedious!” As Charles can’t bring himself to forgo an appearance at a cavalry party at Lord Uxbridge’s, he begs that Bab take Peregrine Taverner as her escort to a quiet suburban boîte in his stead. Oh, how the tongues will wag!

Meanwhile, the roué Lord George Alastair presses his case with Lucy Devenish, “that chit whose name I never can remember.”

Chapter 13. Girls just wanna have fun

Despite Charles’s assertion that married life will not prove an impediment to Lady Barbara’s helter-skelter social life, she’s out to get in all the fun she can before being burdened by the marital yoke. She fulfills her suburban assignation with Perry Taverner, and oh how the sparks do fly!

Harriet Taverner, having suspected Bab of trying to lure her hubby away since the picnic in Chapter 9, is piiiiiiissed. There are several pagefuls of back-and-forth and he-said-she-said, all amounting to little more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Things come to a head at the chapter’s close when Harriet publicly snubs Bab, and suddenly the suburban affair (which even Lady Judith Worth takes to “signify nothing”) is poised to become the stuff of Belgian backroom legend.

Oh, and Lord George Alastair is still a rake.

Uncle, uncle! Tell me, Smart Bitches, what have I done to deserve this? Is this the punishment I earned with my unfortunate “bodice-ripper” comments from so long ago?

O’Reilly’s Sex, straight up wasn’t much to my taste, and it was often silly, but it was therefore fun. This? This is just dull. She’s more concerned with troop movements and hussars’ fringes and frogging than with putting together a plot more complicated than “oh yeah, Bab’s flirting causes chaos.” There’s not even all that much to snark.

Why couldn’t you have offered me one of Heyer’s more Wodehousian titles to read?

My next assignment had better be more...well, more something. I’m dyin’ over here!


Nicole "Gidget" Kalstein said...

Haha I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds all these names confusing. I'm *this* close to having to draw a diagram just to keep up with all this flirting! :D

Mary B said...

Ugh. Not my favorite Heyer.

Just finished rereading Cotillion.

Cute, funny, and nary a military type in sight. I hope they give you something better next time. Kushiel was an excellent selection. That or some Kalen Hughes.

17catherines said...

Perhaps they felt it was a more 'blokey' romance, what with all the Waterloo stuff?

I've just finished rereading 'Black Sheep', which is much more amusing. Or you could try Masqueraders, which is always a winner, since for once you get not just a girl pretending to be a boy, but a boy pretending to be a girl as well...

DocTurtle said...

Catherine: Yeah, I feel like I've been gender-stereotyped into a corner. I couldn't care less about Heyer's flawless description of the feints and fallbacks the various armies at Waterloo are going through in Chapter 20 (the chapter I'm currently on). As you'll see in my next set of chapter reviews, I feel Chapter 14 and 15 are the strongest yet; the first because of its wry humor and the second because of its emotional characterization.

web said...

I've never even tried to read AIA. I know my limits. Do give Cotillion a try.

andys said...

This sounds like a root canal would be more enjoyable than reading this book. Do you have painkillers?

Susania said...

The Grand Sophy is much more fun, and one of her better comedies.

Librarian to the Stars said...

In my opinion, I consider "An infamous army" and Georgette Heyer's other Napoleonic story "The Spanish Bride" to be amongst the best she's written, especially from the viewpoint of historical accuracy. Her descriptions of the Peninsula Wars and Battle of Waterloo are outstanding. Of course, for those desiring their fiction on a lighter note, Georgette Heyer's historical romances are quite delightful. Perhaps the "less cerebral" readers out there may like to stick to Mills and Boon. Being a librarian, with university qualifications in English Literature as well, I do consider myself highly qualified to give an opinion on all matters literary and otherwise!