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A Reader of Fictions: The Militia Marches In - Jean-Yves Thibaudet

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Militia Marches In - Jean-Yves Thibaudet

The Three Colonels

Author: Jack Caldwell
Pages: 358
ARC Acquired from: Sourcebooks Landmark via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Love reigns supreme for our three brave colonels at the start of this epic tale. Colonels Fitzwilliam, Buford, and Brandon are enjoying their courtships and their early married lives with three beloved Jane Austen heroines. The couples lead tranquil lives - until Napoleon escapes from exile. While the military men set out to meet their destiny on the fields of Waterloo, Anne, Caroline, and Marianne defend their hearts against the fear of losing their loved ones.

Going into this, I was rather skeptical, both of the fact that it was written by a man (something I've never before encountered) and because I have found that those novels that attempt to combine characters from multiple Austen novels tend to be particularly bad. The merging of the characters did actually work alright, and was perhaps the best part of the book.

One thing Caldwell has done, that I found both interesting and off-putting, is to focus upon the least likable women from P&P. Caroline Bingley gets married (and sexed). She's suddenly supposed to be a likable character, and I am supposed to be happy for her, even though much of the fun of reading or watch P&P is to laugh at her and yell backfire every time she tries to turn Darcy's eyes her way with the end result of making him more interested in Lizzy.

Caldwell actually does a decent job of selling Caroline's transformation. He says that Caroline and Mary became friends, out of lack of anyone else to talk to in combine family gatherings, to the betterment of both. Mary gets a bit fancier and finds a husband and Caroline gets a bit nicer, because she now knows true friendship. I think that's cool. Still, I just cannot like Caroline Bingley; I'm like Darcy: my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.

I also have trouble sympathizing with Lydia Bennet. She was a stupid girl who did stupid things and got her due punishment (Wickham). Okay, maybe that seems harsh, but, come on, she rubbed her married status in her sisters' faces, even though Wickham had to be bribed to wed her. Nice she is not. Does she deserve better? Maybe, but only slightly so, if that. Thus, the introduction of a character from her past to pursue her (somehow) was not exactly thrilling for me.

Continuing on in the unlikable women of Austen parade, we have Anne de Bourgh. Actually, we don't see much of her in P&P, mostly because Lady Catherine doesn't let other people get a word in edgewise. Anne suffers from curiously poor health. Caldwell has decided that once she got older, she recovered from her poor health. I am actually okay with Anne getting a personality, because she could be a great person, once healthy and away from her awful mother. However, I really think that there must have been someone better to match her up with than her cousin. You're no better than Lady Catherine, Jack Caldwell!

Oh yeah, and, in case you had the idea that men do not write romance novels, allow me to set the record straight. This novel has steamy romance scenes, just like those you would find in the popular romance novels. Of course, there is slightly more discussion of war, but, really, romance is the main subject. Also, I have to say that giving oneself a nickname for during sex seems rather awkward; I laughed heartily at that scene. Do people really do that? Wait, don't answer that.

Also awkward was the organization. One story line would be followed for several chapters, and then it would jump to another one for several chapters. It was hard to form a sense of an overall plot from all of this. I suspected that it had something to do with the Napoleon stuff in the prologue, but since that didn't come up again for hundreds of pages, it was hard to be sure. Note: it does have to do with Napoleon, but first all of the colonels need to be happily coupled. I definitely liked that Caldwell made a bit more of the historical context of the time period. The book is set against the backdrop of Napoleon's escape from Elba and subsequent attempt to take over Europe, but the historical bits are fairly limited.

So, to sum up, this is about as schmaltzy and full of cheesy sex scenes as most Austen-inspired fiction, all of which I seem to find it necessary to subject myself to. It's a fairly entertaining read, but, well, see above.

Rating: 2.5/5

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