Tides of War by Stella Tillyard
While Stella Tillyard has authored several historical nonfiction works, Tides of War is her fictional debut and a great one, too. While exploring the lives of men and women in war time, she breathes a new life into the Peninsular War (1812-1815) and to the early 19th century.
The new century is alive in change, both for people and technology. The female lead of this novel, Harriet, has just married in time to see her husband go off to war for the British while she is left behind to entertain herself and to dabble in things young women are supposed to stay out of. She loves science, adores experiments and is not afraid to delve into speculation. It is her friend Kitty, wife of the Duke of Wellington, who introduces her to the world of speculation. It is her own desires which lead her to activities unbecoming a wife. Meanwhile, at war, her husband James is finding comfort where he can.
The action in this novel switches from stately house to battlefield and back again with seamless effort. While the heroes of the novel are finely drawn, it is the heroines who rule the stage. Harriet and Kitty both possess inner strengths that make them superior characters.
The setting of Regency London and Spain adds to the allure of the overall packaging of the novel and references to real people helps the reader engage with the historical value of the tale.
If you like historical fiction, you’ll be pleased with this book which is satisfying on several levels.