It cannot be considered a good sign that this is only my third Jacky Faber book, and I am already growing weary of her antics. The previous two books The Wake of the Lorelei Lee: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, on Her Way to Botany Bay and The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, which were only ones in the series I'd read so far, were something of an oddity, containing as they did Jacky's only adventures in Asia. This book gets Jacky back to her old stomping grounds in Napoleonic era Europe,...
and manages to make it tedious even for a newbie.
First, there is Jacky's peculiar attitude toward war. Like virtually every book, especially children's book, written since WWI, this novel cannot be accused of glorifying war. If anything, it wallows in the opposite direction, a reasonable viewpoint to hold because however glorious the cause you are fighting for, the fighting, killing, and dying almost never is. However, Jacky takes this even further, to the point of taking a sledgehammer to readers, even to the point of unintentional hilarity.
During the battle of Vimeiro, Jacky disobeys orders in order to fight alongside one of her never ending supply of suitors but then inexplicably spends the rest of the battle (her part of it anyway), "aiming low, hoping to wound, rather than kill," something she also claims to do during other battles in the book.
The abject stupidity of this is worth reflecting upon at some length. First, she is using smooth bore cap and ball pistols, not modern firearms and not even a Kentucky rifle. "Aiming to wound" is simply beyond the capabilities of her weapons at anything other than point blank range. What's more, given the large size of the pistol balls, the primitive status of battlefield medicine in this era, and her doing the opposite of what the panicky, green, or simply tired soldier tends to do, which is miss by shooting high, what she is really doing is piling up French bodies at a greater rate than most soldiers on the battlefield with her, and IMHO author L. A. Meyer earns no credit for being deceptive about this.
Second, Jacky's increasingly ridiculous off battlefield antics after she is separated from her military escort: meeting, posing (nude of course) for, and studying with, the famous artist Francisco Goya, meeting King Joseph (Napoleon's brother), running with the bulls (even riding one!), experimenting with hallucinogenic mushrooms, being captured and tortured by the Spanish Inquisition, hiding out with Gypsies (more accurately, Romani People), etc., all the while kissing, fondling, and doing almost everything short of sex with more than half a dozen suitors while allegedly pining for her Jaimy, truly grates this time. Part of the trouble might be the absence of her supporting cast of friends and suitors for most of the book; Jacky alone grows tiresome more quickly. Surprisingly, for once I found myself more interested in the adventures of Jacky's long suffering "one true love", Jaimy Fletcher, who spends his time away from her (of course) more constructively, learning martial arts and playing slap and tickle with only three girls.
I'm obligated to read and review Boston Jacky: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Taking Care of Business, but barring some unexpected uptick in the quality of the writing, I will gladly take my leave of this increasingly tiresome character and her repetitive antics.