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We recently signed up to stream Britbox and, oh, happy days! One of the offerings is the BBC’s Sharpe Series. I haven’t watched Sharpe in years and I’ve been having a great time binging on some young Sean Bean and the Napoleonic War. What could be better?

I dished on the Sharpe series in an old Risky Regency blog and my thoughts are pretty much the same then as now. Here they are, edited for now.

Richard Sharpe, for those of you who may not know, is a fictional soldier in the Napoleonic War, created by Bernard Cornwell in a wonderful series of books, adding new stories beyond those depicted in the tv series. Sharpe is a marvelous character and Cornwell does a masterful job of giving us such rich detail about the war and the time period, so that you actually feel as if you are there, experiencing it with Sharpe.

The BBC series Sharpe is played by Sean Bean, a very sigh-worthy choice.

Here is what Sean Bean’s Sharpe website said about the BBC series at the time of my original blog in 2006:

“The films are based on the Napoleonic campaign novels, and follow Sharpe and his “Chosen Men” (riflemen who are trusted crack shots). Sharpe has been promoted from the ranks, very unusual in its day, so he has the resentment of the “gentlemen” officers, and also that of the men, who assume he is no better than them. He is promoted after saving Wellington’s life, and is often sent on dangerous missions, along with the Chosen Men, due to his skills and bravery.

In the first film, Sharpe’s Rifles, we are introduced to the Riflemen who will become the Chosen Men, and Sharpe has to forge both respect and friendship with their soon-to-be Sergeant, Patrick Harper. The later films show how cohesive a fighting force these few men become, they think and act as one. The last film to be made was Sharpe’s Waterloo, depicting the great battle.”

I was first introduced to Sharpe years ago through the Chivers Audiobook versions. William Gaminara narrated, and his deep, sexy voice truly enhanced the experience. I can still hear him say, “Sharpe swore.” Unfortunately, I no longer can find those versions. I recently started listening to another audiobook version of Sharpe’s Waterloo read by a different narrator. Not quite the same, but good enough.

Sean Bean is also not the Sharpe I visualized while listening to those audiobooks years ago. In fact, almost all the cast of the BBC version are not the people Cornwell gave to my imagination. Furthermore, I think of the BBC shows as “Sharpe Lite.” The shows meld elements of several of the books into one story, but cannot give the richness of detail that is in the books. Another point–these were not high budget productions, so rather than a cast of thousands, you get a cast of….dozens.

Cornwell also is no romance novelist. His Sharpe is actually quite stupid in love, which is quite frustrating, but even unsatisfying romance elements were not enough to keep me from loving the books, the character, the life of the Napoleonic soldier.

And the Sharpe films, for all that they are not being the Sharpe of my imagination, are still wonderful. If you don’t get Britbox, you can also buy the Sharpe films from Amazon and, I presume, other outlets.

Enjoy!
Diane

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Each year, for the past 17 years, my husband and I (well, he wasn’t always my husband, but you get the point) head to Ocean City, NJ for at least a week of the beach.

Now, if you’ve seen my picture, you know the sun is not my friend. But I like the idea of sitting somewhere and just reading. So I’ve come to love the beach, even though it means slathering myself with SPF 50 and higher each time I venture outside.

I have a theory about beach readsd. Instead of choosing light, frothy reads, I like to read stuff that is in contrast to my surroundings. My beach time is when I choose the meatier books from my TBR pile. The other necessity is that the book be something I can count on–there is absolutely nothing worse than reading a dud when you’re stuck in the middle of sand, and can’t get back to make another choice.

So here is what I’ll be taking to the beach this summer:

Bernard Cornwell‘s Sharpe series. I’ve read the first two (chronological) Sharpes, and have been watching the series on BBC America. Cornwell is a FABULOUS writer, someone who can write 100+ pages of battle scene and keep my interest all the way through. And what’s really cool is that Cornwell always has a twist at the end, so you know there’s another payoff coming at the end of the book. The best part, though, is that Cornwell is alive and writing, and he is very, very prolific, so you will always have more of his stuff to read.

Next up is Ross McDonald‘s Lew Archer series. Lew Archer is a detective in Los Angeles in the–I want to say ’50s and ’60s, but I’m not quite sure–who is smart, tough, and compelling. McDonald’s descriptions are amazing, and the way he writes is on par with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. If you like James Ellroy, you will like Ross McDonald. Again, I’ve been collecting his books. Unfortunately McDonald is dead, so there are no more Archer books, but he wrote plenty when he was alive, and they are now out in gorgeous trade paperback.

Loretta Chase‘s Captives of the Night has recently been reissued, and I have never read it. If you’re a Regency fan, you’ve read at least one of her books, and you know she is a solidly consistent author whose heroes are deceptively stupid and her heroines are smart and brook no nonsense. You can depend on Chase for an enchanting read, good for if there seem to be storms brewing over the horizon.

And last, Barbara Hambly. Her Benjamin January detective series is lush, intriguing, and describes 1830s New Orleans society so well I feel as if I’m there. January is a great character, a dark Black free man who is a pianist and a doctor. I’ve only read two of the series thus far, and am very much looking forward to reading more.

And that is what will be getting sandy with me at the beach. Sorry about no pictures, I am on a kind friend’s computer and haven’t the time to hunt down pictures.

Have you read any of these? Are there any in these genres that you would recommend?

Megan
www.meganframpton.com


Oh, happy days! Sharpe has come to BBC America, Saturday nights at 9 pm, right after one of my favorite shows, Cash in the Attic.

Richard Sharpe, for those of you who may not know, is a fictional soldier in the Napoleonic War, created by Bernard Cornwell in a wonderful series of books, now spanning his early years with Wellington (then Wellesley) in India to beyond Waterloo. Sharpe is a marvelous character and Cornwell does a masterful job of giving us such rich detail about the war, so that you actually feel as if you are there, experiencing it with Sharpe.

The BBC Sharpe is played by Sean Bean, a very sigh-worthy choice.

Here is what Sean Bean’s Sharpe website http://www.shipofdreams.net/seanbean/sharpe/index.htm
says about the BBC series:

“The films are based on the Napoleonic campaign novels, and follow Sharpe and his “Chosen Men” (riflemen who are trusted crack shots). Sharpe has been promoted from the ranks, very unusual in its day, so he has the resentment of the “gentlemen” officers, and also that of the men, who assume he is no better than them. He is promoted after saving Wellington’s life, and is often sent on dangerous missions, along with the Chosen Men, due to his skills and bravery.

In the first film, Sharpe’s Rifles, we are introduced to the Riflemen who will become the Chosen Men, and Sharpe has to forge both respect and friendship with their soon-to-be Sergeant, Patrick Harper. The later films show how cohesive a fighting force these few men become, they think and act as one. The last film to be made was Sharpe’s Waterloo, depicting the great battle.”

I was first introduced to Sharpe through the Chivers Audiobook versions. William Gaminara narrated, and his deep, sexy voice truly enhanced the experience. I can still him say, “Sharpe swore.”

Sean Bean is not the Sharpe I visualized while listening to the audiobooks. In fact, almost all the cast of the BBC version are not the people Cornwall gave to my imagination. Furthermore, I think of the BBC shows as “Sharpe Lite.” The shows meld elements of several of the books into one story, but cannot give the richness of detail that is in the books. Another point–these were not high budget productions, so rather than a cast of thousands, you get a cast of….dozens.

Cornwell also is no romance novelist. His Sharpe is actually quite stupid in love, which is quite frustrating, but even unsatisfying romance elements were not enough to keep me from loving the books, the character, the life of the Napoleonic soldier.

And the Sharpe films, for all their not being the Sharpe of my imagination, are still wonderful. If you don’t get BBC America, you can also rent the Sharpe films from Netflix or purchase them online.

Enjoy!
Diane

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