30.5.14

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell


As proof that I'm just not cut out for this club---I'm still about 85 pages pages away from finishing the book I want to feature. And I JUST got a message from the library prompting me to renew. Again. Urg. Nevertheless, I shall push forth...

This month's read is Redcoat, an historical fiction by Bernard Cornwell set during the British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Historical fiction is how I prefer to get my history, and Cornwell does a great job of working in the minute details of the time and place to make that piece of history come alive for me.

Did you know that it was considered a luxury to have dentures that were crafted from teeth yanked from the heads of soldiers who died on the battlefield? Cornwell's detailing gets delightfully nasty like that without going overboard, just enough to make me cringe and put me in the rawness of the period.  He also tosses in sublte touches of humor and romace without getting the least bit gushy about it.

This paticular story has lots of main players, and their stories are nicely woven together. There's one in particular that has me intrigued---he's bad, but he's also got potential for greatness. I don't think it's going to happen, but I'm so hoping he reaches a glorious moment of redemption before the story is done. That kind of depth of character is what keeps me turning the pages of any book.

One thing that chuffs me about Cornwell's stories---I've noted it in other books I've read by him as well---is that the female love interests can't just be plain or regular pretty, they're all bestowed with astounding physical beauty that nears perfection, as if they couldn't possibly be worth capturing a man's heart or notice without that all-important quality.

I also noted something odd on the copyright page---the copyright isn't held by Bernard Cornwell but by something called Rifleman Productions, Ltd. I Googled it, but my search only led me to an Australian dance company. What do you suppose the reasons are for the copyright not going to Cornwell? Does this mean it's actually written by a team of ghost writers or could there be other business reasons?

To see what the rest of the Coffeehouse gang is reading, click around below. Thanks much to The Armchair Squid for hosting.

16 comments:

M.J. Fifield said...

I love Cornwell's novels. I love his attention to detail, and the battle scenes are awesome.

I've read the Saxon tales and the Grail stories. My very favorite series was the King Arthur trilogy. I have a friend who loves the Sharpe series.

Katie O'Sullivan said...

My son has this book on his shelf - I may have to borrow it now. Thanks for the recommendation!

Sally said...

I've read Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series and found it better than the TV series, a bit blood thirsty and maybe too much grisly detail for my female mind. I might have a go at other books by him now.

Veronica Rundell said...

Yeah, I think I'd like to get my history from a novel, too! :)

I haven't read any Cornwell, but I love Gabaldon's work--and she slaps a whole lotta historical tidbits into her novels, too. This would probably work for my teenager--he's a big history/bloody battle kinda reader.

LD Masterson said...

I have Redcoat in my TBR pile. Perhaps it's time for me to move it to the top of the stack.

Suze said...

Loved your opening paragraph.

The denture bit sounds shudder-inducing but the romance and humor bit without getting treacly sounds purdy darn good. I hope potential-guy has his moment of redemption, too. Doesn't even have to be glorious. We can't all be bestowed with astounding moral beauty that nears perfection. Ha! Just made me a funny.

As for the Australian dance company lead, I think there's a book in there somewhere ...

Have a super weekend, cutes.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Way to go making a first-class review Nicki. I couldn't agree more that astounding physical beauty is not that important to love as a good personality. Here's hoping you have a first-rate Friday.

Janie Junebug said...

I gave you an award on my blog today. I bet you won't accept it even though I accepted an award from you.

Love,
Janie

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I've read quite a few historical novels, but I'm not familiar with this writer. Thanks! I'll definitely check out his stuff. (HA! You know what I mean...)

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm a slow reader, too--mostly because it just takes me a while to get around to reading things! Time is short. I'd spend all day reading if I didn't have to do anything else...but then I wouldn't have time to write, either!

The Armchair Squid said...

The astonishing beauty - is it eternal recreations of Helen of Troy, do you suppose?

The dentures story - nice touch.

Megan Lee said...

Nicki, I agree you with you wholeheartedly! I prefer to get my history through fiction as well! I feel like I learned about Australia through The Thorn Birds. Ha! I also had to laugh about your renewal request. That is me in a nutshell. I'm a terribly slow, stop-start reader! This sounds like a great book!

Trisha F said...

I would want to read about history in this way as well - but I'd want to be sure it was really based on the actual truth, and not embellished for theatrical effect.

I prefer to read about 'ordinary looking' heroines who win a dude in the end because of their kick-arse prowess and/or scathing wittiness. :)

Lady Lilith said...

Looks like a great book. I have a friend who is all into historical fictions.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great details to add to a book review! I don't know that I could handle the denture part, and I roll my eye in any fiction that has to include physically perfect characters - whether they are man or woman. In fact, I found a Bible narrative in which all the Biblical heroes were portrayed as extremely buff, muscly, studly-handsome guys and I laughed so hard I couldn't finish it. Every time a person was introduced it included a long description of their physical perfection - gah! I think I want to make my next hero pimply and squinty.
Sorry, had a tmi reaction there.

Thanks for sharing your review!
And thanks for the blitz today!

Arlee Bird said...

If that thing about the dentures is true then that's pretty disgusting. I just saw that painting that's used on the book cover pictured in another review I was reading about in the paper. Not for this book but another. I was captivated by all of the activity depicted in that painting.

Lee
Tossing It Out