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Tides of War [Hardcover]

Stella Tillyard
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 May 2011

At the heart of this sweeping, panoramic novel, set in Regency London and Spain during the Peninsular War, stands the lively, outspoken Harriet, poised on the threshold of the adult world. Her new husband, James, is setting off to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Left in London, she is taken under the wing of Kitty, Lady Wellington. While the women plunge into new worlds of politics, finance and science, the men face the bloody reality of the battlefield, testing their endurance to the hilt. There are betrayals on both sides, and at times it seems their love cannot endure. Their dramatic stories whirl us through the tumult of the Regency at home and abroad.

Tides of War is drenched in an unforgettable atmosphere, from the mantillas and palms of Seville to gas lamps in foggy London. It carries us deep into the anguish of men at war, the taste of freedom offered to the women left behind, the passions of scientists, doctors and inventors and the burning drive of émigrés in a society on the cusp of change. As Harriet and James pursue their destinies, facing hope and heartache in equal measure, this stunning novel returns us all to the vivid, lost world of the past.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701183179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701183172
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Dazzling -- I love this book. It's beautifully written, the characters are deeply involving and the historical settings are so right -- in short, Tides of War is a triumph." (Simon Schama)

"Great fun" (Max Davidson Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012, Tides of War is an epic romance - a sweeping, panoramic novel by the best-selling historian, set in Regency England and Spain during the Peninsular War, 1812-15

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut 28 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The historical knowledge of the author has certainly imbued this novel with a high degree of authenticity. It is an impressive debut novel by Stella Tillyard. She is excellent at evoking the period and this is probably the principal strength of the book. Her attention to detail is extremely thorough; although, arguably, she is too thorough at times. Whilst her principal characters are believable the male protagonist, James Raven is not as well developed as his wife Harriet who is by far the more interesting of the two. Perhaps this was the intention of the author? I don't know the answer to that one. The essentials of the plot are relatively straightforward but sufficiently intriguing to sustain the reader to the end of the story. Overall, an impressive debut which bodes well for future novels. Highly recommended, especially for those who enjoy quality historical fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Harriet Raven is newly married and her husband James is off to war in Spain in the Duke of Wellington's forces. Like any military wife she must deal with his absence as best she can. Harriet is an unusual woman as she is interested in science having helped her father Sir William Guest with his experiments. While her husband is absent she goes to London to spend time with her aunt and makes friend with Kitty, the Duke of Wellington's wife, who is also uninterested in the usual womanly interests of the time.

I though Harriet was an interesting character and I would have preferred it if the book had focussed more on her life than it actually did. There are just too many characters and too many strands to this novel and this reader was left wanting to know more about Harriet and her relationship with Kitty. Instead the book skips about between Europe and England and follows several characters meaning nothing is covered in depth.

The historical details are excellent and very well written but to my mind there were just too many of them and they tended to drown out the human element. Historical personages appearing in a novel can at times result in a feeling that the story is encased in a straight-jacket and I definitely had this feeling while reading this book. More time spent following the fictional characters would have made the book more readable for me at any rate. I felt as though the author really wanted to write history rather than an historical novel
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite slow 24 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am sure that there are people out there who will enjoy this book, and I am loathe to criticise an author purely because I have not enjoyed his / her particular style of writing; after all, just because it isn't the style for me, doesn't mean that the writing is poor in quality. However, this book just did not do it for me. It felt like a snail on amphetamines. The snail metaphor refers to the extremely slow pace of the book, while the amphetamine metaphor refers to the rapid changes in character. Now I don't mind a book that is told from multiple character views, in fact I enjoy them as they enable the reader to experience the story from a variety of angles and perspectives. However, this book changed character with no warning. One paragraph I would be reading about one character, and in the next, just like our hyperactive snail, it changed tack and I found myself reading about a completely different character. It just didn't do it for me. There was a good story in there somewhere but the pace was so slow that I found I lost interest very quickly and I never heard enough about any one particular character to engage with them and to be interested in their fortune and fate. However, I am sure that there are many who will enjoy the gradual build-up of atmosphere - it's all down to personal choice really.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and Compelling 3 May 2011
By Mrs. C. Colbert VINE VOICE
Harriet's life in London, while her new husband is away fighting, is interspersed with James' life in Spain fighting under Lord Wellington.

She attends lectures at the Royal Institution, where she meets and makes friends with Frederick Winsor whose National Light and Heat Company hopes to light the country with new coal gas lamps. She loves chemistry and thought that "sewing, with its thimbles and delicate thread, had none of the satisfactions of chemistry. A pastime was just that. Chemistry, or astronomy, changed the world".
She also tries to discover why her mother left her when she was just a baby but finds that no-one is forthcoming when she asks them.

There was a real feeling of how London was in those days, the sights and smells were especially detailed, as this paragraph from page 237 describes -

""One morning in late April ....... she walked to the water's edge. Down the narrow cut at Bull Wharf she watched the shallow waves turn over on the shore. An easterly breeze carried the smell of fish and a tang of salt upriver from Billingsgate Market ...... the water's slap and suck mixed with human voices, gulls' cries and the rumble of carts over London Bridge. The river was a brown-blue, laced with grey at its edges. As far as Kitty could see downriver the rust-red sails of London barges and a lattice of masts and spars stood out against the sky.""

Not a word is wasted, not a sentence is written without thought. I devoured it slowly, savouring every detail. I felt that Stella Tillyard really got into the minds and thoughts of the characters ..... of which there were many! From the highest -- Lord Wellington -- to the lowest -- Thomas Orde, who is an out of work weaver and James' servant in the battlefields.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Clunking and unengaging.
I was looking forward to reading this novel, but from page one I was disappointed. The plot, set against the drama of the Peninsula War was exciting enough, but oh dear! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alison Balfour-lynn
3.0 out of 5 stars Tides of Time
I found this novel took a while to get in to, when I did I quite enjoyed it, but I'm not sure it's something that's going to stay with me. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. D. J. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars A little lumpy at times
I really wanted to like this book Stella Tillyard really knows her stuff as a historian.

This novel almost managed to pull off the trick of mixing the fictional with... Read more
Published 8 months ago by B. Innes
3.0 out of 5 stars A feminist Regency novel
'Now, what am I looking for?
Harriet scanned the stoppered phials on the shelves, putting a finger to the label of each one. Read more
Published 9 months ago by purpleheart
3.0 out of 5 stars Seems a little hard work at times, maybe it's just me!
Harriet and James are newly wed, James is off to the Peninsular war with the Duke of Wellington, Harriet gets to stay at home in London. Read more
Published 11 months ago by FLB
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Average Historical Novel
The Tides of War covers the period of Wellington's Peninsular wars and beyond. Through its pages the character of the great man himself emerges and it is not always a flattering... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Brett H
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, perhaps too thoughtful, novel about the "Home Front"...
The Napoleonic period, and the Peninsula War in particular (1808-1814) is I suppose a "favourite" period of military history for me, and not just because I have read the Sharpe... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Nicholas J. R. Dougan
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction rather than romance
This story is about Harriet who is born before her time. She is into science and assisted her father with his work. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Trickle Tree
5.0 out of 5 stars Tides of war, romance and historical drama
Stella Tillyard's fifth novel has been a long time coming. She seems to produce just one novel every six years or so, but it shows in the result. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Thomas Pots
5.0 out of 5 stars War-torn Lives and Loves..........................
'Tides of War' by Stella Tillyard is a novel that is set during the Napoleonic War.
Harriet and James are newlyweds, with a lifetime of love and happiness stretching out in... Read more
Published 20 months ago by laineyf
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