Review: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty

Posted April 20, 2017 by Stephanie in 2 Stars, Historical Fiction, Linda Lafferty, Review, The Girl Who Fought Napoleon / 5 Comments

Title: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon: A Novel of the Russian Empire
Author: Linda Lafferty
Publication: September 20th 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Rating: 2/5

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.

The Girl Who Fought Napoleon was a quick read but I struggled quite a bit with it. I feel like two stars for the book is a little harsh but the negative things in it definitely dominated the few possitive ones

The book started out well enough. I really like the chapters featuring Nadezhda Durova, a girl who disguised herself as a boy to join the Russian cavalry against Napoleon. I loved Nadya’s spirit and courage for running away from home and following her heart.

But there were also chapters about Tsar Alexander I. Although I liked Alexander as a character in this book, I just didn’t like his chapters. I feel like the book could’ve done without those and the few chapters in Napoleon’s POV as well. I wish the book had been more about Nadezhda and everything she did. I think then the book would’ve been so much better.

The writing wasn’t bad but I can’t say it was amazing either. The narratives could be a bit confusing, jumping from year to year. It’s really too bad because I loved the author’s book, House of Bathory back in 2014. 

Would I recommend The Girl Who Fought Napoleon? I’m not sure. The story wasn’t all bad. It has some great scenes, the history felt well-researched and it didn’t take me long to finish. I just wished the focus had actually been more on the actual girl who fought napoleon—Nadezhda Durova.

The daughter of a naval commander, Linda Lafferty attended fourteen different schools growing up, ultimately graduating from the University of Colorado with a master’s degree and a PhD in Bilingual/Special Education. Her peripatetic childhood nourished a lifelong love of travel, and she studied abroad in England, France, Mexico, and Spain. Her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo when she was just ten years old, and she enjoys playing to this day. She also competed on the Lancaster University Riding Team in England in stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. A veteran school educator, she taught at the American School in Madrid and at Aspen High School as an English as a Second Language and Bilingual American History teacher.
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