The year is 1806, and Russian cavalry officer Alexi Ruzhensky journeys to Munich to kill the man responsible for murdering his brother in a duel, French officer Louis Valsin. Already thwarted once at the Battle of Austerlitz by Valsin’s lover, Anne-Marie, Alexi has been told by his father not to fail again.
Obsessed by the main character in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s novel Julie, Alexi becomes romantically entangled with a beautiful and passionate young Bavarian woman.
He hides his true identity and befriends Valsin and Anne-Marie, only to find that he has no thirst for blood. As the three grow closer, tensions mount as Alexi and Anne-Marie desperately try to resist their growing attraction.
But as the novel comes to its explosive conclusion, Alexi will learn that revenge cannot be forgotten so easily.
The Hour of Parade is a literary treat; set in 1806, after the Napoleonic victory over the Tsar. It starts out as brother’s quest to avenge his younger brother’s honour but blossoms into an essay about love and hate, right and wrong and ultimately forgiveness. The story is characterised by a complex set of relationships and explores life’s uncertainties and grey areas through the four main characters. The outcome reveals nothing is clear cut where human emotions and interactions are involved.
The story echoes the classics that have come before and indeed the author has included translations of Rousseau’s Julie, which dominates the thinking and actions of Alexi the Russian officer who sets out to avenge the family honour. The characters echo the prejudices and expectations of the time period beautifully, it is their completeness that makes this simple story an enthralling read.
The setting is well described and interesting; the historical detail is all there for the reader to absorb. You experience the action and emotion, rather than watch it from afar and this is a satisfying experience.
The final scenes echo the poignancy of the human effects of war. They reinforce the plot’s authenticity and characters’ realism. A must read for fans of complex relationships played out against a vivid historical tableau.
I received a copy of this book from Createspace via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Hour of Parade by Alan Bray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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