Friday 8 July 2022

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Needing Napoleon by Gareth Williams

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Fictional Drama/Time Travel/Military/
19th century

"Can you change what has already happened? As a history teacher, Richard Davey knows the answer. At least, he thinks he does. On holiday in Paris, he stumbles across a curious antiques shop. The eccentric owner reveals a secret Richard dares not believe. Richard’s conviction that Napoleon Bonaparte should have won the Battle of Waterloo could be put to the test. Accurate historical detail collides with the paradox of time travel as an ordinary twenty-first-century man is plunged into the death throes of the French empire."

Richard Davey is a lonely and disillusioned teacher working in a girls' school; his main interest in life is Napoleonic history. When he is offered the incredible opportunity to travel back to the early 19th century and meet his hero, Napoleon Bonaparte, he doesn't hesitate even though he can hardly believe it is true. The story opens when Richard finds himself transported back to 1815 on the eve of the battle of Waterloo; his adventure begins with him being deposited amongst the British troops unsure of how to make his way to the French army without being shot as a spy. Despite being soaked from the persistent rain, hungry, frightened and cold he knows that now there is no going back to his old life.

In the first part of the book there are a few flashbacks to the twenty-first century so that the reader can understand Richard's life and how he came to make such a momentous change to it. After that it concentrates on how he meets Napoleon and becomes part of his hero's entourage both on the battlefield and in exile.

The historical details of the battles and the period are well researched and the author gives such precise descriptions of the blood and gore of the battles that you feel you are there, smelling the cordite and hearing the clash of steel on steel. Mr Williams appears to have an expansive knowledge of 19th-century warfare both on land and at sea, all of which bring the story to life. But it is not all about battles; there is plenty of intrigue going on among the court of Napoleon while he is in exile on St. Helena. The book is elegantly written and packed with intricate details of dress and behaviour, as well as painting a very sympathetic portrait of Richard's hero, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Although this is not my usual choice of historical novel, I found it a compelling read and couldn't put it down until I found out if Richard Davey did in fact manage to change the course of history.

I suggest you read it yourself to learn more.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Joan Fallon
 e-version reviewed

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate the review. The sequel, Serving Shaka, is now availsble.


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