Today I have an historic fiction: by David Ebsworth. Please read on for an excerpt, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could win one of 5 copies (Digital or Print) of the title. You can see what others thought about this title by checking the other tour stops
The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour
On the 200th anniversary (2015) of the Battle of Waterloo, David Ebsworth brings a compelling look at the war, the time and two women who are embroiled in the events. I was not expecting the depth of character displayed in Marianne and Liberte, nor the compelling perspective that juxtaposes against some of the truly epic battle scenes.
Ebsworth brings a sense of humanity and softness to the very omnipresent threats posed by the ongoing battles, and Marianne, Liberte and their families are neatly woven throughout, moving the sense of time forward between battles and jockeying for position for the next battle.
What I didn’t expect was to find such compelling characters in all aspects of the story: while I’m not in any way a fan of war and battle strategy, there was a beauty in the presentation of the battle bits that gave the struggle its own flavor and presence, almost creating a character from the historic events that are the setting of the story.
What emerges is an intimate look at lives as they struggle to move forward and find a sense of safety amidst ever-present danger, as it lies bare for readers the wishes for life, hopes for future and even how to survive after unthinkable events: how those change both determination and outlook, and whether survival is even possible in the new and changed landscape. Paralleling that struggle for the ages is the clearly researched, graphically presented and strangely compelling story of the battles and struggles on the battlefield – all solidly tied to real events, with clear research informing the author’s retelling.
In what is one of the more unique historic fiction tales I have read, Ebsworth has skillfully manipulated fact and fiction with deft characterization, demanding the reader’s empathy and emotional investment in a story that could have easily been a clinical and dry recount of June 1815.
Title: The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour
Author: David Ebsworth
Published by: SilverWood Books
Published on: 1 December 2014
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June 1815. Bonaparte has returned from Elba and marches with his army to defeat the Prussian and English enemies of France. Within his ranks is Marianne Tambour, a battle-weary canteen mistress for a battalion of the Imperial Guard’s Foot Grenadiers. Just one of the many cantinières who provide the lads with their brandy and home comforts, both in camp and also in the thick of the fight.
Marianne is determined that, after this one last campaign, she will make a new life for herself and her young daughter, since neither of them has ever known anything but the rigours of warfare. But she has not reckoned on the complications that will arise from a chance encounter with another of the army’s women, Liberté Dumont – Dragoon trooper and sometimes spy for the Machiavellian French Minister of Police, Fouché. And Marianne wonders what she really wants, this hawk-faced trooper with her visions, dreams and fancies.
Yet, for now, Liberté Dumont is the least of Marianne’s worries. Her position as canteen mistress has not been easily won and she has made enemies in the process. Lethal enemies. And creating a new life, breaking with the army, needs money. Lots of money. So when Hawk-face Dumont accidentally provides an opening for Marianne to rid herself of a dangerous rival and also extends the possibility of fortunes to be made, it looks like an opportunity too good to be refused.
The battles that both women must survive, however, at Ligny and Quatre Bras, create their own problems. The closer they come to the English Goddams, the more Marianne is haunted by the memory of the way her adopted mother was butchered at their hands just a few years earlier, in Spain. Thoughts of revenge torment her, distract her from her goals. But her daughter’s capture by the Prussians, and Liberté Dumont’s help in the quest to find the girl creates new and very different bonds, between mother and daughter, and between the two women themselves.
The climax will take place on the blood-soaked fields of Waterloo, where Marianne Tambour and Liberté Dumont must each confront their deadliest foes, their worst nightmares, find answers to the secrets of their respective pasts, and try to simply survive the slaughter. Yet the fortunes of war are not easily won, and the fates may, after all, only allow one of these women to see the next day’s dawn.
David Ebsworth’s story, The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour: A Novel of Waterloo, is based upon the real-life exploits of two women who fought, in their own right, within Bonaparte’s army.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.