Sep

4

 I have read and sent The Last Cavalier to a few friends. Regrettably, the book is marred by an unbelievable character, Hector, a count, who can do anything from chugging champagne to killing sharks, snakes, fencing tigers, and brigands. It has some great historical vignettes of the spendthrift but well-loved Josephine, and the rather generous and energetic character of Napoleon. It contains much naval maneuvering from a corsair surcout that is completely unbelievable and out of context. There is a nice section about the mystery and ability and tactics of the royalist rebel George.

The hero kills Nelson and this inexcusable act is counterbalanced by Dumas by the best part of the book, an excellent historical disquisition on the battle of Trafalgar and the rise and appeal of lady Hamilton

The book is long and discursive. The kind you keep reading hoping that it will leave you with something lasting about its time and place. But to get to those few spots you have to wade through an unending 800 pages of filler, and out of context vivid events, and martial arts. The relations with his two sisters are particularly bleak and unbelievable. A terrible thing for a young person to read.

It reminds me of a Larry McMurty novel about the west, or a James Michener novel about a country or state, which is taken from history books summed up by summer interns. Obviously the author was paid by the word, and two thirds of it including the entire story of the count was a dead weight cost to me.

To compare this book to a Patrick O'Brian Novel, except for The Road to Samarrah, which it is like in many respects, except 10 times as long and three times as boring is like comparing Cervantes to Jackie Collins.

I am sorry that I sent this book to my friends or recommended it without reading it first as the ratio of input to output here is much too high.

The best part of the book aside from the spendthrift ways of Josephine was the professor's long introduction where he describes the hard work he put in to discover this lost novel. One wishes his discovery had not been made.


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