2007: 17. Flashman

“Hughes got it wrong, in one important detail.  You will have read, in Tom Brown, how I was expelled from Rugby School for drunkenness, which is true enough, but when Hughes alleges this was the result of my deliberately pouring beer on top of gin-punch, he is in error.  I knew better than to mix my drinks, even at seventeen.”

Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser

Flashman involves one of my favorite novelistic games, when an author takes on minor character from an existing novel and book, and expands that into a new novel or story. Even though this can way too easily fall into goofy fan-fiction,* if done well they can expand the story in an interesting way, and I am always a sucker for the meta. Flashman tells the story of Flashman the bully from the old moralistic school story Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and expands him into the witty, charming and absolutely caddish Flashman, member of Her Majesty’s Army. Flashman is a coward, a cheat, and a misogynist too boot, but since he is completely honest and upfront about all these flaws (and the flaws of everyone around him) you can’t help but enjoy reading about his exploits. This is the first Flashman novel, which tells of his expulsion from Rugby College (also covered, I gather in Tom Brown - I haven’t read the thing myself) and his subsequent adventures on the ill-fated Afghan campaign (c. 1849).

I found the book slow going – I actually started it last fall, read about seventy pages and then put it down completely – but once I picked it up again, I finished it in one sitting. I got into the spirit of the story, started to enjoy reading about what a disaster the Afghan campaign was (sound familiar, no?), and to enjoy ol’ Flashy himself. Evidently the later books are even better – he’s more witty, more cowardly and a more wicked – the tag line of the series is, evidently “Flashman, you cad!”. I’ll read more Flashman.

Recommend for: People who like meta-novels; people interested in realistic, modern depictions of disastrous nineteenth century warfare; cads and the readers who love them.

*I refuse, for example, to read these daughters of Mr. Darcy books that seem to be so popular.

Date/Place Completed: 02/06/07, D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017