The Spanish Bride Audio Cassette – Audiobook, March 1, 1992
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- ISBN-10 : 0745160115
- ISBN-13 : 978-0745160115
- Dimensions : 7 x 2.25 x 9.25 inches
- Item Weight : 1.23 pounds
- Publisher : Chivers Audio Books (March 1, 1992)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #19,808,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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HOWEVER if you, like me, have read every Georgette Heyer book (yes, I have!) AND are interested in her really excellent HISTORICAL "narratives" (such as "The Conqueror" and the combined fictional romance/true story of Waterloo: "An Infamous Army", wherein she tells true history but must call it a novel), you will love this book.
According to Jane Aiken Hodge's definitive biography, "The Private World of Georgette Heyer" (long out of print and available now HERE in trade PB), this book is based in the memoirs of Capt. Harry Smith of the famous 95th Rifle Brigade, the only "foot regiment" to have "modern" Baker rifles and the first to wear "camouflage" colored uniforms.
While not an easy read, it is of interest to any wanting to know more about the Peninsular War and what it was like to be in Wellington's Army. It is not surprising that few if any books exist that delve into that world as Harry Smith's memoirs and this book do, as it was dull stuff compared to romantic fiction. But it is real and accurate, as is the Waterloo narrative in "An Infamous Army", which is told from the viewpoint of a fictional character whio was in the thickest of the action. (Noted historian Christopher Hibbert once called it "The best told narrative of the battles of Waterloo I have ever read" or words to that effect.)
If you want to get "into" the world of the Peninsular War, you will have to read this book. It is a great resource for would-be authors who cannot find a copy of Capt. Smith's memoirs.
This story is indeed true, though "Heyer-ized". Harry Smith did indeed rescue Juana from the marauding and victorious British troops after the devastating and bloody siege of Badajoz and marry her. The marauding lasted three days until Wellington began hanging the offenders. Wellington never approved of "revenging" the dead British troops, but the siege lasted so long and the victory cost so much that there was no stopping the men short of killing them, which many officers like Harry Smith did.
Juana did "follow the drum" with Harry throughout the rest of the Peninsular War and Waterloo. Other nonfiction biographies and write-ups of the period usually mention his memoirs as reference material. Harry and Juana were very well known and liked by troops from all regiments and of all ranks.
Harry Smith was very unusual; he made the Army his career as he had no other and he was not of the aristocracy. But he was in the right place; at a time when "rising through the ranks" was not possible without wealth (as officers were usually "commissioned", that is, they bought their rank), he eventually rose to Brigadier General rank. The 95th was really the only regiment where this was possible. In other regiments, he might have remained a sergeant his entire career.
Serious Wellington, Regency and Heyer fans must have this book in their collection. Again, not everyone will like it.
The Spanish Bride is a departure from the usual format of the Heyer regency romance but this is a welcome departure. The book is the story of an improbable romance that is based on reality and backed by an impeccable body of research; the reader is truly taken on a historic journey. Readers of An Infamous Army will be familiar with Ms Heyer's stunning detail of the Battle of Waterloo, deservedly used as reference material by scholars. I found the descriptions of the Spanish campaign in the Spanish Bride to be equally excellent, with the often tragic details lightened by the thread of this wonderful romance woven throughout.
Top reviews from other countries
As for romance, Harry Smith meets his Spanish bride, Juana, on page 39 and has married her by page 47. There is none of the usual cut and thrust of witty repartee, misunderstandings, and absurdities that we have might have expected.
The book follows the pair for the rest of the campaign in Spain and France, back to England, while Harry is posted across to America, and then to Waterloo. The 'romance' is, of course, based on a true story. Ladysmith in South Africa is named after Juana, from later in their lives. And it is as much a historical account as a novel, and as such it is accurate, succinct and illuminating. Many of the words spoken by the characters - Harry himself, Kincaid, Wellington and others - are their actual words, drawn from their own memoirs or reported at the time. Many of the stories and anecdotes are lifted, if not quite word for word, at least faithfully from these memoirs. Speaking of which Kincaid's 'Adventures in the Rifle Brigade' and Harry Smith's memoires remain vivid readable accounts today - in Kincaid's case, there is laugh out loud black humour on occasions.
It is a wonderful portrait of young officers at war; each one, half silly young fool and half experience-wise and far older than his years. Written as the Second World War was about to start, it is a testament to young officers of any era.
But does this mean that this is a book for Regency Romance readers to pass over? I would emphatically say it worth reading. Juana comes into the midst of the hard-bitten army, shares their hardships and wins their hearts. It is quite touching in places. The enormity of the conflict and the love and friendship is moving.
This is also the backdrop to many of Heyer's other books. For example, Hugo, hero from The Unknown Ajax, is from the same regiment as Harry Smith - the 95th rifles (also the regiment the fictional Sharpe serves in). Adam Deveril in A Civil Contract served in the 52nd - another light infantry regiment in the Light Division alongside Harry Smith. Heyer doesn't chose these regiments at random - it implies a lot about what the characters have seen and what they have gone through, and it also explains their bond with the former soldiers serving as their grooms. Read The Spanish Bride, and you'll understand them better.