Monday, March 6, 2017

The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty ~ Review

Title: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon
Author: Linda Lafferty
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 444 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Source: First Reads
Reviewed by: Jasmyn
In a sweeping story straight out of Russian history, Tsar Alexander I and a courageous girl named Nadezhda Durova join forces against Napoleon.
It’s 1803, and an adolescent Nadya is determined not to follow in her overbearing Ukrainian mother’s footsteps. She’s a horsewoman, not a housewife. When Tsar Paul is assassinated in St. Petersburg and a reluctant and naive Alexander is crowned emperor, Nadya runs away from home and joins the Russian cavalry in the war against Napoleon. Disguised as a boy and riding her spirited stallion, Alcides, Nadya rises in the ranks, even as her father begs the tsar to find his daughter and send her home.
Both Nadya and Alexander defy expectations—she as a heroic fighter and he as a spiritual seeker—while the battles of Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Smolensk rage on.
In a captivating tale that brings Durova’s memoirs to life, from bloody battlefields to glittering palaces, two rebels dare to break free of their expected roles and discover themselves in the process.
A fascinating tale, but a bit of a misleading title. Why Nadezhda does fight Napoleon eventually, I felt like the story was about a whole lot more than just that. It follows an unusual life of a little girl that never really felt like she fit in. A tale that people can relate to emotionally even today.

Nadya wasn't a strong character in the way I thought she would be. She wasn't a war hero, she didn't kill hundreds of enemies or save hundreds of lives. But she did manage to rally people around her name, meet the czar, and become a special part of Russian history. She survived a war that many did not, and she managed to do it gracefully and with humility. 

While told primarily from Nadya's point of view, we also get to see into the mind and life of Tsar Alexander. He was another interesting character and quite a revolutionary at heart. It's too bad he wasn't able to follow through with all his ideas and passions. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding the Tsar and his wife that I hadn't heard before, and the story wrapped up with quite a content reader.

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