Magazine article The Spectator

The Old Order Changeth

Magazine article The Spectator

The Old Order Changeth

Article excerpt

The old order changeth THOMAS GAGE by James Fleming Cape, L16.99, pp. 297, ISBN 022407119X

As a historical novel Thomas Gage is more Hardy than Tolstoy. The classic historical novel - as concocted by Walter Scott and perfected by Tolstoy - gives the reader an unexpected viewpoint from which to witness a great historical moment. Fictional characters with fictional relationships are the centre of attention, but they weave in and out of the company of historical figures and take part in great events. Thackeray leaves Dobbin dead on the field of Waterloo beside the genuine casualties of the day; Scott removes Waverley from Prince Charles's army to spare him a similar fate at Culloden. The success of Patrick O'Brian, of Allan Mallinson's Close Run Thing and Robert Harris's Pompeii attest to the enduring fascination of these fictional sidelights on history.

Though it has a Waterloo connection Thomas Gage is not that kind of faction. It is simply the story of a country landowner, living in Norfolk in about 1850, caught up in private events which become too much for him. Gage (who fought at Waterloo at the age of 19) is a 'Gentleman and Artist', as his visiting card has it, with a first painting just accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition. Thanks to his wife, who has inherited an interest in her industrialist father's business, he lives comfortably and adores his lively, outspoken son and daughter. He is a large, rumpled 50-year-old for whom women, for reasons that other men find difficult to fathom, seem to fall. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.