Thursday, January 29, 2015

France Book Tours: The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour

The Last Campaign of
Marianne Tambour:
A Novel of Waterloo




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 rigors 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.


I have not read many war novels that were narrated by female narrators, so it was a unique experience to read this novel as we get to see the war from their view point.  It's very clear that the author spent a lot of time researching this novel. At times I forgot that I was reading historical fiction as it definitely read like non-fiction at times for me but it makes sense that it read that way since it's based on the real-life exploits of two women.  The author did spend time developing the story of these two women but the detailed accounts of the battles and experiences of war made it feel like non-fiction.

I knew very little about the build up to Waterloo or about the battle of Waterloo so it was interesting to learn more about a period of time that I was very unfamiliar with.  Like I said, the narrators of the story are women but the author is male and I don't know that the voice of the narrators really came across as truly female to me.  I've had that experience with other books I've read where a male tries to write from a female perspective; I think it's very difficult to write from the view point of the opposite sex.  



David Ebsworth is the pen name of writer, Dave McCall,
a former negotiator and Regional Secretary for Britain’s Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool (UK)
but has lived for the past thirty years in Wrexham, North Wales,
with his wife, Ann. Since their retirement in 2008,
the couple have spent about six months of each year in southern Spain. Dave began to write seriously in the following year, 2009,
and The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour is his fourth novel.

Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter
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Buy the book: SilverWood Books |  Amazon US  | Amazon UK  | Abebooks  | Waterstones


Abby said...

Wow! Very interesting read. Sounds like it would be almost tough to get into. Interesting point about a male writing from a female's perspective. I think that would be very difficult.

Emilie said...

This is a period of history that I don't know much about. I love historical fiction though, and to have a war story told through the point of view of a woman is very interesting! I agree that it's difficult to write from the POV of the opposite sex. I haven't read many books like that, but the most recent was She's Come Undone and at times I found myself annoyed with the author for getting things "wrong" if that makes sense.

Nora said...

It IS interesting when guys try to write a woman character. Thanks for the honest review :)

Marlys said...

Sounds like you learned some history but agree that it is hard to write from the POV of the opposite sex. The story line does sound interesting, though!

David Ebsworth said...

Thanks for the review, Lisa. This is a story about one of the bloodiest battles in history, of course. And I based the character of Marianne on the real-life exploits of a woman called Madeleine Kintelberger. Kintelberger was a cantinière with Napoleon's army (like hundreds of others) serving shots of brandy to the men of her regiment while they were actually in the thick of the fighting at Austerlitz. She was cut off by a group of Russian Cossacks. That caused her particular concern because she happened to have her three small children alongside her too - which wasn't hugely unusual. She fought the Cossacks off with a sword for more than half an hour, by which time her right arm was shattered and she'd been speared by lances several times. The Russians took her (and her children) prisoner, amputated her arm. Oh, and they delivered the baby she was carrying too. Did I mention that she was 8 months pregnant at the time? Anyway, she eventually returned to France, was decorated by Napoleon and, six months later, was back in the front line with her regiment. To be honest, I was not TOO sure how the "voice" of a woman like that would resonate. I apologise if it wasn't convincing because that means I didn't do my job properly. But, as Emilie says, it would be really helpful to me if I had some feedback on exactly where I got it "wrong." I wrote this from a woman's PoV because nobody (literally nobody) has ever bothered to think about what it would have been like for the many real-life women actively engaged on the Waterloo battlefield. Great comments though and I'm happy to pick up any specific questions.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your honest review, as you highlighted what you thought work and didn't work. I'm actually reading it right now, and I think I would not know for sure if a man or a woman wrote it. The way he describes the jealous between the 2 women sounds quite feminine to me, lol! And her concern for her kid, in the midst of the conflict and violence surrounding her as well sounds quite motherly to me, so far. Of course women of the time were much tougher anyway.

David Ebsworth said...

Good point, Emma! For me, POV is either convincing or it's not. I've read plenty of books written by men, about men, where the men aren't convincing characters. And then there's all those books written by women about stereotypes of other women (should I mention "Fifty Shades..." here?) that simply don't resonate either. And yes, the women of the army were tough as old boots. But that doesn't give them male characteristics. Quite the opposite, I think. Anyway, as I said, I'd REALLY appreciate the views of other readers about whether the POV works and, if not, in what way.

Amber said...

Oh interesting! I've been loving the Ken Follett Century Trilogy so I think I would probably enjoy this. I think historical fiction is a new favourite of mine because I just find it really interesting to not only read an intriguing tale but also learn real facts about important moments in history!

Carol L. said...

Thanks for your review. Considering how bloody the battle at Waterloo was from the historical books I've read,I can't imagine any woman being there as well as her children.I can't wait to read this.Thanks for the opportunity.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

David Ebsworth said...

Well, Ken Follett really is the master at the moment, I think, Amber. And the Century Trilogy should be compulsory reading for students of 20th century history, I reckon. Wonderful overview! But hopefully you might like "Marianne" too :)

David Ebsworth said...

And, Carol, since you've already supplied your e-mail, would you like to be added to my monthly newsletter list?? It's only short but will keep you up-to-date with my books, events, bits of juicy gossip, etc