Flashman at the Charge

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman at the Charge. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1973.

Are you paying attention? By now we are up to the fourth installment of papers owned by Mr Paget Morrison. As a reminder, Harry Flashman is the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. To bring the reader up to speed, the first three packets of papers revealed Flashy’s early military career, his involvement in the 1st Afghan War, his run-in with Otto Bismark (& Lola Montez), and his escapades as a slaver in West Africa. At the end of the last packet of papers Flashman’s wife, Elspeth, was pregnant with their(?) son. Flashman admits he’s not sure it’s his, especially after he catches his wife with a lover.
In the fourth installment the year is now 1854 and this time Flashy has been appointed as special guardian to Prince William of Celle during the Crimean War. His son, Harry Albert Victor (aka “Havvy”) is five years old. I don’t think I am giving anything away when I say Flashman is taken prisoner and makes an interesting deal with his captor. The outcome of that deal is not revealed in Flashman at the Charge. Maybe in the next installment?
George MacDonald Fraser calls himself the “editor” of this packet of papers and admits he only corrected spelling and added necessary footnotes (and there are a lot of them, as always).I have to admit, I’m still not used to the downright silliness of Fraser’s writing. Case in point – in the heat of battle Flashman has gas, “I remember, my stomach was asserting itself again, and I rode yelling with panic and farting furiously at the same time” (p 105). What I liked the best about this set of papers is that there is someone who sees through Flashman’s cowardice (finally!).

Reason read: to continue the series started in April (Fraser’s birthday).

Author fact: Fraser has been called a “comic novelist”. His writing is funny, I have to admit.

Book trivia: Interesting tidbit: the back flap ends with this statement, “Read Flashman at the Charge and you’ll understand his international reputation as:” That’s it. They leave you hanging.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). I have to note that Nancy Pearl called this Flash at the Charge (both within the chapter and in the index) when it should be Flashman.



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