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I am developing a fondness for the French side of the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars, and would like to read some books about it, which are not too British biased. Could any of you recommend some?

Date: 2009-01-25 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There is a side of the French Revolution that is not French? Do tell.

Date: 2009-01-25 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This isn't a historical account but Victor Hugo has his view of Waterloo in Les Miserables

Date: 2009-01-25 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, which is made of awesome, and also of win.

Date: 2009-01-25 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I feel that I should take some blame for this! *big grin*

In the land of historical novels there are some fun ones with a VERY different perspective. Though I warn you it's melodramatic fluff, I suggest Juliette Benzoni's Marianne series. You could start with this one, which I have conveniently found for you at a bargain price on Amazon UK!

One of the interesting things about this book is that Juliette Benzoni has used Ida St. Elme extensively as a source, and this particular volume of Marianne contains a rewrite of the same scene from the memoirs that is the Milan scene in Fortune's Wheel. (Though Marianne is much blinkier than Elza!)

In the land of nonfiction, this one is excellent: Delderfield is amusing and chatty, while really giving you a sense of personality.

Hummm. I can think of a lot more. Will get back to you later with more!

Date: 2009-01-26 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As a teenager, I read lots of French books set during the French Revolution or Napoleon's rule. I must say I found it disorienting, as an adult, to switch to English literature which had the completely opposite view on the same events. Suddenly, the good guys were the bad guys and vice-versa. It was even more unsettling since the history I studied in school tended to present Napoleon as a visionary and a genius, not the tyrant the British portray. Waterloo was a great tragedy, not a great victory.

So, are you sure you can stand reading this kind of a different opinion? I'm a neutral party in the French vs. English divergence of views, and still found it hard to switch pov's.

But, if you're sure, I recommend reading Talleyrand's memoirs, or a good biography on him. Since he was none too fond of Fouchet, you'll also get a broad view of France's internal political workings during Napoleon (though Talleyrand is hardly objective on this point). As for fiction, Dumas has several books set during the French Revolution. He tends to be a fan of Marie Antoinette, so the books are similar in spirit to the Scarlet Pimpernel. I recommend the 2-book series "Le Docteur Mystérieux" (The Mysterious Doctor) and "La Fille du Marquis" (The Marquis's Doctor). You can also find a list of his Marie Antoinette series on wikipedia, though I don't think those books contain quite as much historical info as this series.

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