Battle fans may find this episode of the captain’s adventures a bit too concerned with the inner workings of military...

A REGIMENTAL AFFAIR

In previous installments, British cavalry officer Mallinson (Honorable Company, 2000, etc.) offered us the beginnings of Captain Matthew Hervey’s army career—which was born amid the stress of the Napoleonic Wars and grew up with the colonial campaigns in Ireland and India. Hervey is no Flashman: A minister’s son, he is goodhearted, honest, and loyal—and, despite his romantic weaknesses, he is no rake, either. Here, we follow him home to England, in 1817, when the economic turmoil wrought by years of warfare has ravaged the nation and reduced much of the populace to beggary. Since a great many of these unfortunates are ex-soldiers nursing their grudges against the king who used and later discarded them, the problem soon presents a sharp political edge. Hervey’s regiment is called upon to keep the peace, yet another in a series of unpleasant and morally dubious tasks that our hero has been called upon to render to king and country. He hopes to escape far enough into private life to marry his beloved Lady Henrietta Lindsay, but he finds an insuperable obstacle to his domestic happiness in his commanding officer, Lord Towcester. An incompetent and corrupt soldier, Towcester makes use of his social connections to keep Hervey from exposing him—as the price of his marriage. Is there to be no rest for the warrior?

Battle fans may find this episode of the captain’s adventures a bit too concerned with the inner workings of military careerism, but Mallinson has cooked up a hearty historical stew all the same.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2002

ISBN: 0-553-11154-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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