A Writer of Historical Romances
Joan Vincent

Collection Book Reviews

Joan's book reviews are denoted with a JV at the end of the review. Vera's are denoted with a VVM.

Title & Author Review
NAPOLEONIC LIVES Researching the British Soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars by Carole Divall
Napoleonic Lives
Divall recreates their lives in an entertaining manner while providing not only information on them and the war they fought in, but also on how to do further research and the foibles there of. There is a chapter on how to do this research identifying and explaining the key sources and how to use them along with information on the major museums and archives to use. There is a sparse but concise timeline of events from 1789 to 1815, followed by eleven chapters. While I had read the stories of many of the men Divall covers, I had never encountered such a succinct rendition of their lives intertwined with the surrounding political and military aspects. The many illustrations provided throughout the book help the reader form an even clearer image of their lives and experiences. A great introduction to the British soldier but also a book that expands the view and possibilities of the lives it covers. JV
Napoleon and the Empire of FASHION 1795-1815 by Ginny Redington Dawes with Olivia Collings
Napoleon Fashion
A sumptuous presentation of French fashion and its influence in the Napoleonic era with unparalleled photographic detail of fashion plates from “Costume Parisien” as well as garments of the times. Fashion plates and garments are often corellated with closeup shots of costume detail for an exquisite examination. The books presents essays examining the play of politics and economics in fashion in a thorough and understandable manner by a variety of authors. A complete bibliography is given. JV
Georgian Jewellry 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington Dawes with Olivia Collings
Georgian Jewellry
From the duskjacket to the last page eye-popping photgraphs of Georgian jewelry abound in fascinating opulence of unique and amazing craftsmanship in detail and beauty. It is called The essays/explanations which accompany are informative with detail to please the researcher. The beauty of the watches, parures, necklaces, earings. barcelets, purses, cameos are beyond description. Where possible the authors have shown photos of the jewelry and corresponding portraits in which the pieces were worn in the time. From iron jewelry to opaline glass to paste to gold to silver to diamonds, each piece is more incredible. The photos take your breath. Secions include: Acknowledgements; Preface; Dawn; Day; Night; Love; Death; Eternity; Bibliography, Credits and Index. Please note that in this instance Georgian includes the Regency as it covers the period of time from George I to death of Prinny, George IV. JV
The Strange Story of Dr. James Barry Army Surgeon, Inspector General of Hospitals, discovered on death to be a woman by Isobel Rae
TDr. James Barry, born Miss Margaret Ann Bulkeley, contrived a successful masquerade as a man. He completed studies in Edinburgh and London, passed the surgeon exam, and then was commissioned a Hospital Assistant with the British Army on July 6, 1813. All of this was impossible for a female at that time. Since Barry rose to high rank with many achievements including one of the first successful caesarian deliveries where both mother and child survived while keeping his true gender a secret Ms. Rae declared him "a fascinating personality." Using Army records as well as previously unavailable "Barry Papers" in the British War Office, the author traces Barry's early years and his various stations, promotions, commendations. Giving his "warts" (a terrible temper) and virtues with an accurate picture of the world he lived in, Ms. Rae provides an intriguing picture of the times and Barry's audacious and at times outrageous masquerade as well as his dedication "to the amelioration of human suffering." JV
Bussaco 1810 Wellington Defeats Napoleon's Marshalls Praeger Illustrated Military History Series by Rene Chatrand

The Praeger series books are all concise presentations. This one begins with a general outline of the geopolitical situation of the countries involved. It goes on to describe the British, Portuguese, and French participants; presents the Battle of the River Coa and then describes the Battle of Bussaco and its aftermath. Excellent for getting a general overview. JV
Bussaco by Lt. Col. G. L. Chambers

Chambers writes in an easily readable style with a lot of detail. He starts with what came before the battle, gives the British and French positions; outlines the composition of the opposing forces including the Portuguese. After a discussion of battle tactics he goes into great detail of the battle, outlining the artillery and then giving the aftermath. Sprinkled throughout are photos of various positions today with notes which makes the account especially interesting. JV
The Peninsular War: A Battlefield Guide by Andrew Rawson

Rawson offers a concise readable guide the the major points of the Peninsular War battlefields and a travel guide to their sites in modern Spain. The battle maps are the most readable for the amateur enthusiast that I have seen. Complete listing of participants and their movements make it easier to understand tactics. Photos of the buildings Wellington used as HQ and other interesting sites are throughout. JV