Tides of War: Book summary and reviews of Tides of War by Stella Tillyard

Tides of War

A Novel

by Stella Tillyard

Tides of War
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2011
    368 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

Tides of War opens in England with the recently married, charmingly unconventional Harriet preparing to say goodbye to her husband, James, as he leaves to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain.

Harriet and James's interwoven stories of love and betrayal propel this sweeping and dramatic novel as it moves between Regency London on the cusp of modernity - a city in love with science, the machine, money - and the shocking violence of war in Spain. With dazzling skill Stella Tillyard explores not only the effects of war on the men at the front but also the freedoms it offers the women left behind. As Harriet befriends the older and protective Kitty, Lady Wellington, her life begins to change in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, James is seduced by the violence of battle, and then by love in Seville.

As the novel moves between war and peace, Spain and London, its large cast of characters includes the serial adulterer and war hero the Duke of Wellington, and the émigrés Nathan Rothschild and Frederic Winsor who will usher in the future, creating a world brightly lit by gaslight where credit and financial speculation rule. Whether describing the daily lives and desires of strong female characters or the horror of battle, Tides of War is set to be the fiction debut of the year.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Tillyard is at her best with historical figures and when depicting the era; readers share Harriet's discovery of the waltz, Jane Austen, and ice cream, and witness cutting-edge battlefield surgeries under real-life Surgeon Gen. James McGrigor." - Publishers Weekly

"Dazzling - I love this book. It's beautifully written, the characters are deeply involving and the historical settings so right - in short, Tides of War is a triumph." - Simon Schama

"Love, betrayal, war and peace charge this powerful debut." - Fanny Blake, Woman and Home (UK)

"Seldom, since reading Jane Austen, have I wanted to slip between the pages of a book and become one of its characters. But in Tides of War, Stella Tillyard's first novel, the clever, messy heroine who prefers chemistry to needlework filled me with roughly the same longing I felt when reading Emma as a teenager…" - Lucy Kellaway, The Financial Times (UK)

"Starred Review. This sophisticated, unusual portrait of Regency society will appeal to all readers of historical fiction, especially admirers of Bernard Cornwell." - Library Journal

"A remarkably instructive novel. Tillyard embellishes a plot too intricate for summary with a plethora of detail. Readers…will find much to fascinate them... Tillyard is a fluent and attractive chronicler of historical detail and some of her imaginative liberties are ingenious… An entertaining fictional debut." - The Telegraph (UK)

"Hugely enjoyable… In its intelligent, classy, entertaining way, the book is reminiscent of that other fine novelist of the Napoleonic wars, Patrick O'Brian." - Angus Clarke, The Times (UK)

"This novel is packed with marvelous period detail… Tillyard writes in fluid, largely understated prose, and her descriptions are wonderful." - Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times (UK)

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Reader Reviews

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Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)

Tides of War Swept Me Away
Tides of War may have been Stella Tillyard's first foray into fiction writing, but I pray it will not be her last. That a biographer of her repute would be able to write a historically accurate novel was not in question. That she would be able to develop her characters-both real and fictional, so expertly was the delightful surprise. Tides of War is an absorbing and satisfying read on every level.

Theresa R. (SIERRA MADRE, CA)

Loved It!
What a great novel. I love historical novels but usually they do not meet my expectations, but this one grabbed me from the beginning and held my interest until the very end. I enjoyed the author's writing style and how she was able to bring so many different characters to life with such ease. Her characters were realistic and easy to care about. Although in the beginning it was difficult switching between characters and places, I came to really like going from city life to war life. Definitely looking forward to reading other works by Ms, Tillyard.

Mary B. (St Paul, MN)

Tides of War
I enjoy reading historical fiction and I liked this book very much. For me, it was not the type of book to read cover to cover in one sitting, but one that I could read over a period of time and savor. There were interesting characters both real and fictional and good interwoven stories. I enjoyed the strong female characters.

Leslie D. (Le Roy, NY)

"Tides of War" reveals true heroes--and imposters
Although slow starting, this superb historical piece depicts the Peninsular War in rare depth. From the home front to the battlefield, it’s an honest, raw view of war and its effects, where intensely sad scenes are countered by little rays of hope.
The portrayal of real people, including Wellington and his wife Kitty, financier Nathan Rothschild, and inventor Frederick Winsor, is outstanding and provides rich fodder for discussion groups.

Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)

Tides of War
What a grand book. Stella Tillyard brought all the aspects of war into this book. With each character, one was able to feel the anticipation of war, the gore of war and the consequences and end of war through their eyes. I came to know everyone personally and felt their emotions and needs. It is a well written book that glides from scene to scene. I eagerly look forward to another historical fiction by Stella Tillyard.

Jill S. (Eagle, ID)

Tides of War
This is a great book for those who love historical fiction. Although it the story can be bogged down in characters and details, Tillyard did a great job in her research and portraying the reasons for the English entering the Peninsular War. I particularly liked this story because this is not a much written about time period.

...32 more reader reviews

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More Information

Stella Tillyard has been described by Simon Schama as "dazzling... a phenomenally gifted writer." Her books include Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832; Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald, 1763-1798; and most recently A Royal Affair: George III and his Troublesome Siblings. She has lived in the United States and Italy and now lives in London. Visit her at www.stellatillyard.com

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