Blog Tour: The Belles of Waterloo by Alice Church

Maria, Georgy and Harriet navigate their first throes of passion, scandal, and love in the heady pre-war atmosphere of Brussels in 1815. Little do they know they will soon be waltzing their way to the battle of the century at a small village called Waterloo.

As the fight for Europe rages outside the city walls, Maria seeks to find herself – will she also find a husband along the way?

What I Thought:

The prevailing view of much of our military history is – inevitably – about fighting men and their experiences, so it’s refreshing to read an account (albeit fictionalised to some extent) of the women who also lived through periods of upheaval. The Belles of Waterloo are Maria, Georgy and Harriet who are aristocratic, with a family beset by financial troubles and find themselves living in Belgium (MUCH cheaper than London!) on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.

Initially, their lives are dominated by parties, gossip and hair ribbons, but snatched kisses with potential suitors turn into a reality of assuming caring responsibilities for injured soldiers and realising that the men they may have been considering as a good match are now injured or dead.

While the book is excellent in its own right, and would be a great read if it was a purely fictional account, it is enhanced by the fact that the three ladies in question were real and living the life as described by author Alice Church. Church includes extracts from real-life letters between the girls, their mother (who was a Paget of Plas Newydd) and other family members at the start of each chapter which sets the scene and gives an insight into the feelings of these women.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book for me was the fact that, after the battle, the family and others of their acquaintance visited the battlefield – even before the bodies had been taken away. I found this bizarre, but it seems to be a common enough practice at the time – I have also read accounts of the US Civil War, where families would picnic on the battlefield, to watch the battle!

This really is a fascinating book, clearly well-researched and, as I said, refreshing to read about the thoughts, feelings and actions of this group of women whose previous experiences would have been so far removed from the realities of battle and horrific injuries.

The Belles of Waterloo is published by Unicorn Publishing Group.

About the Author:

Alice Church has specialised in Wellington-era history since studying for her BA at University College London. After graduating in 2012 she worked as a researcher on the Wellington portrait catalogue ‘Wellington Portrayed’ (Unicorn, 2014). She has also published a biography of Lady Georgiana Lennox, daughter of the 4th Duke of Richmond (Universe, 2016). She lives in Dorset with her husband Charles and son Freddie. This is her first novel.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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