Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bernard Cornwell – “Sharpe’s Havoc”

Publ: 2003 ISBN: 0007120109
Rating: **** 4 stars

Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809. Chronologically this is the seventh book in the Sharpe series but the 19th Sharpe book that Cornwell wrote. A cut above the average Sharpe book and an insight into the impact that the French invasion had on Portugal. Unlike Allan Mallinson, Cornwell doesn’t flaunt his understanding of the workings of Wellesley’s army and yet the detail is all there. The book commences with Shapre and his little band cut off from the main army and instructed to seek out and take care of Kate Savage, the attractive (of course) missing daughter of a wine merchant.

The Sharpe series is not the sort from which I have been tempted to insert quotes in the past but a couple from here will help to underline the subtle humour which underlies much of Cornwell’s approach to his somewhat unorthodox hero who has dragged himself up by his bootstraps to become a lieutenant at this stage.

“We have to level the ground, sir,” Pelletieu said, “because God didn’t think of gunners when He made the world. He made too may lumps and not enough smooth spots. But we’re very good at improving His handiwork, sir.”

“Tongue, like Sharpe, came from London, but Sharpe could not remember where Harris had grown up and, when they stopped to catch their breath and search the darkness for any hint of light, Sharp[e asked him.
“Lichfield, sir,” Harris whispered, “where Samuel Johnson came from.”
“Johnson?” Sharpe could not quite place the name. “Is he in the first battalion?”
“Very much so, sir, “Harris whispered, and then they went on...

BERNARD CORNWELL OBE (born February 23, 1944) is a prolific and popular English historical novelist. As a child he was adopted by a family by the name of Wiggins. After he left them he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, Cornwell.

Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman. His mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. Cornwell was sent away to Monkton Combe School, attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He then joined BBC's Nationwide and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News.

He married an American, Judy, in 1980 and relocated to the U.S.. Unable to get a Green Card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit. He lives in Cape Cod.

In June 2006, Cornwell was awarded an OBE (Officer, Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours List.

The Sharpe Series
1. Sharpe's Tiger (1997)
2. Sharpe's Triumph: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye September 1803 (1998)
3. Sharpe's Fortress (1998)
4. Sharpe's Trafalgar: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 (2000)
5. Sharpe's Prey: Richard Sharpe and the Expedition to Copenhagen, 1807 (2001)
6. Sharpe's Rifles: Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January, 1809 (1988)
7. Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 (2003)
8. Sharpe's Eagle: Richard Sharpe and the Talavera Campaign July 1809 (1981)
8. Sharpe's Christmas (2003)
9. Sharpe's Gold: Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida, August 1810 (1981)
10. Sharpe's Battle: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes De Onoro (1995)
11. Sharpe's Company (1982)
12. Sharpe's Sword (1983)
13. Sharpe's Enemy (1983)
14. Sharpe's Honour: Richard Sharpe and the Vitoria Campaign February to June, 1813 (1985)
15. Sharpe's Regiment: Richard Sharpe and the Invasion of France, June to November 1813 (1986)
16. Sharpe's Siege: Richard Sharpe and the Winter Campaign, 1814 (1987)
17. Sharpe's Revenge: Richard Sharpe and the Peace of 1814 (1989)
18. Sharpe's Waterloo: Richard Sharpe and the Waterloo Campaign 15 June to 18 June 1815 (1990)
19. Sharpe's Devil: Richard Sharpe and the Emperor, 1820-21 (1992)
20. Sharpe's Escape (2004)
21. Sharpe's Fury (2006)

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