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Tag Archives: Waterloo

I have an incomplete manuscript, not yet contracted, with a French hero and a Scottish heroine (we’ll call them Jacques and Isabel, since those are their names) who meet under perilous circumstances during the Napoleonic Wars and are reunited when he seeks her out after the war ends.

Of course, the war in question didn’t have a tidy, straightforward end. And because of that I haven’t made up my mind whether to set the reunion part of the story in 1814, after Napoleon’s original abdication, or in 1815 after Waterloo. Since Jacques in 1814 is deeply in love with Isabel and has no way of knowing Napoleon will be back next spring, the most natural thing for him to do would be to take ship for Scotland while the ink is still drying on the peace treaty. But then I’d have to deal with the Waterloo elephant in the room, since every one of my readers will know what’s coming.

Photo by Brandon Daniel, used under Creative Commons license

But as elephants in the room go, at least this one is relatively small and cute. Once Waterloo is over, Britain and France will remain at peace (or, eventually, allied with each other in war) for 198 years and counting. Jacques and Isabel can live out a happy lifetime with no insurmountable conflicts between their private and public loyalties, make the occasional trip back to Scotland to see her family, and so on. (Yes, they choose to live in France. I love Scotland as much as the next woman of partial Highland descent, but his family has a vineyard and winery along the Dordogne River. To me that’s a no-brainer.)

Other future elephants in the room present greater challenges. I can never read Rilla of Ingleside, when they’re all happy at the end that the Great War is over at last, without the melancholy thought that Rilla will get to go through this all over again with her own children once WWII comes around. If she and Ken marry in 1919 or 1920 and have a son shortly thereafter, he’ll be just old enough to enlist in 1939 or ’40! And while I’ve long forgotten the title, I once read a medieval romance that ended in something like 1345. I had trouble totally buying into the Happily Ever After because I knew the Black Death was right around the corner.

Is this just me, or do other readers and writers weigh characters’ happy endings against what history holds for them?

Today is Memorial Day in the USA, a day of remembrance that began as Decoration Day, a day freemen (freed slaves) decorated the graves of Union soldiers. The holiday eventually became a day to include remembrance of all who have died in defense of our country.

Most of us do not know first hand what soldiers face when they are sent into combat. We suppose their valor, their fear, their willingness to face enemy fire. We imagine it and recreate it in books and movies. I’ve certainly imagined battle for my Three Soldiers series.

Today seemed a fitting day to talk about my favorite war movies.

I’ll start with a Regency era one, of course.

Waterloo (1971) starring Christopher Plummer as Wellington, and Rod Steiger as Napoleon. The battle scenes in this movie are magnificent. Once scene almost perfectly recreates the painting by Lady Butler of the charge of the Scots Greys. The aerial photography of the French cavalry attacking the Allied squares was incredible. I loved how the important and memorable incidents from the battle were depicted.

The Longest Day (1962) from a book by Cornelius Ryan, a book I actually read! This movie tells the story of D Day, not with, perhaps, the graphic horror of the battle as in Speilberg’s Saving Private Ryan (which I have not seen), but a great movie for its scope of the battle and its ensemble cast including Henry Fonda, John Wayne (of course), a young not-yet-famous Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Eddy Albert, Paul Anka…and more. Like in Waterloo, important parts of the battle are shown and woven together to show how the victory was accomplished.

Zulu (1964), my favorite war movie of all time!  Zulu is the true story of an attack in 1879 by 4000 Zulu forces on a small hospital and supply depot guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen, many who were hospitalized. Narrated by Richard Burton and starring Stanley Baker, Nigel Green, and a very young Michael Caine, this movie shows true valor and celebrates, in the end, the respect all soldiers are due.

Zulu and The Longest Day are available on Netflix and other dvd vendors. Waterloo might be harder to find but is worth the search.

Notice all these movies were made decades ago. The distance in time helps me favor them. I have a more difficult time watching more recent depictions of war, especially if the movies involve Vietnam or Iraq and Afghanistan. Too close for comfort…

Here’s a Memorial Day video that literally made me cry. It was created by a 15 year old girl and is going viral on the internet.

What are your favorite war movies? Have you seen any of my three? What do you think of them? What did you think of the video?

A part of me wishes I were still in NYC. I heard the Fourth of July fireworks there are going to be the best ever! But I was really tired after a week of RWA, where I had the very best time.

I hope you are all finding some fun place to celebrate our Nation’s birthday. It seems a little odd that I’m going to be spending my blog today talking about the Regency world instead of our founding fathers who declared Independence from the country in which all my books are set.
On Tuesday last week, I attended the Beau Monde Conference, a one-day event that took place before the actual Romance Writers conference. Mary Jo Putney opened the conference with a talk about her Regency writing career and her fondness for the time period.
Risky Janet gave a fascinating workshop on the Abolitionist movement in England.

And my friend Victoria Hinshaw discussed the Battle of Waterloo through the reenactment she attended last year on the battle’s anniversary.

I had to miss the afternoon sessions, but I didn’t miss the Soiree

The Mills and Boon editors, Linda Fildew and Joanne Grant stopped in at the Soiree. From L to R, Julia Justiss, Linda Fildew, me, Joanne Grant.

There were so many wonderful Regency costumes. I told everyone that I was dressed “Regencyesque.” My dress was long, but not exactly Regency.

I ran into Janet here and there during the conference, and I saw Megan enough to say hi to, but I only glimpsed Carolyn. She did look lovely presenting a RITA, though. I missed Amanda and thought of her often. We sent a photo of me and Andrea/Cara Elliot, I think. Things about the conference are already trying to blur.

Thursday at Diane’s Blog I‘ll talk about the rest of the conference and show some more photos. I have a new excerpt of Valiant Soldier, Beautiful Enemy at my website and some exciting new news and a new contest.

Tell us what you are doing this Fourth of July!!!
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At last! I have internet again. I’ve not had access to internet since Sunday morning. I think I would have simply perished had I not been able to check email and such on my iphone. This has been hard.

I’ve also had a very busy few days so I hadn’t had the foresight to write a blog ahead of time.
But this trauma of not having access to the internet got me to thinking of communication during the Regency.
This past Saturday was the 196th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. I wondered how long it took for the folks back in London to learn of the battle and its outcome.
Wellington sent an official dispatch on June 19 and it arrive in London on June 21. The news was published as a London Gazette Extraordinary on June 22. Three days. And I can communicate with a blog in an instant (if the internet is working).
The news of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo did travel across the English Channel a bit faster than the official dispatch. The Rothschild family had several agents working on both sides of the line at Waterloo. By the afternoon of June 18, the Rothschild couriers boarded a chartered boat and brought the news of the victory to Nathan Rothschild two days before the official dispatch. The difference, you might say, between email and a text message. Or maybe between a blog and twitter.
By the way, the story that Rothschild used this prior knowledge to make a killing on the bond market, is not exactly truthful. Actually, Rothschild felt that the war would last a long time. The battle ending the war so quickly almost ruined the Rothschilds.
Has the internet (or any other kind of communication) failed you at an important time?
Thursday on Diane’s Blog, I’ll tell you what made my weekend so busy.
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A week ago, I told you what Wellington and Napoleon were doing on that date 195 years ago. Today 195 years ago, a young Nathan Rothschild, who had been instrumental in providing and delivering gold to pay for the war, stood by a pillar in the Stock Exchange. His efficient network of communication had delivered to him news of the Allied Victory at Waterloo. Legend has it that he deliberately gave the impression that Wellington had lost the battle, by looking gloomy and selling Consols (bonds) precipitating a panic of selling. Then he supposedly bought up the Consols at a depressed price, knowing their value would soar when Wellington’s courier finally reached London. If I’m remembering correctly, Heyer used this version of events in A Civil Contract.

But the truth of Rothschild’s involvement was somewhat different, as you can see in this YouTube video:

The Rothschilds assumed, as did everyone else, that England and its allies were facing a protracted war once again. Nathan Rothschild had bought up gold to provide to Wellington to pay for the war effort, but after the surprising decisive victory, the price of gold would plummet and Rothschild would suffer a great loss. Instead he gambled on the rise of the bond market. He bought up bonds and sold them two years later at a whopping 40 per cent profit. So he did make money, but he’d taken a great risk and had not exploited the country. His provision of gold, after all, financed the war effort. Of course he made a profit from that, too, originally.

Wellington’s dispatch arrived forty hours later than Rothschild’s. Here’s an account from The Telegraph’s review of Peter Hofschröer’s book, Wellington’s Smallest Victory:

News of the Battle of Waterloo was rushed to London by Harry Percy, Wellington’s only surviving unwounded ADC. He carried the despatch in a velvet handkerchief sachet an admirer had thrust into his hand as he hurried from the Duchess of Richmond’s famous Brussels ball on the eve of battle. He had no sleep that night, nor the five nights following, and had to row himself ashore from the middle of the Channel. His scarlet and gold tunic was still torn, dirty and blood-stained when he burst into a St James’s ballroom, a captured French standard in each hand, and dropped to one knee before the Prince Regent. It was Shakespearean.

Think of how instantaneously information reaches us today!

I really do hate to think about investments and bonds and profiteering now or in the Regency, although I think the sending of information so quickly, like Rothschild arranged, would make for an interesting episode in a book. That would be exciting!

I’m not sure I’d find banking in the Regency the stuff of Romance. Would you?

Come join the conversation on Diane’s blog on Thursday when Mary Blayney and I talk about the Regency and her new release (as of tomorrow, June 22) Courtesan’s Kiss. Mary will be our guest here at Risky Regencies on July 18.

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