Forester, C. S. Lord Hornblower.

Boston: Little, Brown, 1946.

It’s 1813 and Captain Horatio Hornblower has finally recuperated from the cholera that laid him low at the end of his tenure as commodore in the Baltic. He’s been enjoying the time at home in Smallbridge with his wife and son, but he’s also getting restless. Then the First Lord comes to his rescue by sending him off to deal with the mutinous crew of a brig in the harbor of Le Havre, the result of a tyrannical and viciously cruel commanding officer.

Hornblower, of course, finds a way not only to disarm the mutiny but to capture several French ships in the process. And then, being Hornblower, and Napoleon being on the retreat, he manages to land a couple hundred marines from the Channel Fleet and finds himself appointed Military Governor of Le Havre. Barbara joins him there and when the Emperor abdicates to Elba, she goes off to Vienna to play hostess for her brother, the Duke of Wellington (and that’s the last we see of her for the remainder of the story).

Hornblower goes back to Smallbridge for a short while but then returns to pay a visit to his old friends, the Comte de Gracay and his widowed daughter-in-law, Marie, who featured in the first-written trilogy in the series, Captain Horatio Hornblower. Hornblower loves his wife, but he also still holds a passion for Marie. Of course, Napoleon refuses to stay abdicated and the Hundred Days finds all them trying to carry out a guerrilla campaign in the Upper Loire Valley with only a handful of royalists, but it’s a major struggle.

In terms of quality, this episode in the series falls right in the middle. It’s rather episodic in structure, the result of having first been serialized in a magazine, and there’s rather less naval action than usual, Hornblower being stuck on land for much of the book. Still, it’s a good read — and you definitely don’t want to start here in the series because the emotional back-story will be essential in keeping up with things.


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