I had heard about the Flashman novels – a sort of send-up of nineteenth and early twentieth century adventure novels. I’d seen the books in my local used bookstore and had been intending for some time to buy one and send it my father (who, like his older brother, has something of thing for Victoriana adventures; Kipling sort of stuff). But, naturally, I had to read it for myself first.
Flashman is more straightforward than I would have thought and the hero not so bad as I’d been lead to believe and less over the top. I wasn’t totally thrilled by his voice and it found it less than unique, but a rather straightforward pulp-style voice, only with a less admirable character.
There were some fun moments, mostly around Henry Flashman’s sexual failures. Firstly, when he tries to seduce a fellow officer’s wife, but she fights him off, not realizing that having one’s breasts fondled by a man isn’t a sign of ordinary affection, like shaking hands, but a sexual signal. Her shock and horror that he would have misinterpreted her accepting giggle of his boob fondling to be an implication that she wants a roll in the hay was lovely. Also, it was nice to see Flashman have to come to grips with (and accept) his wife’s apparent infidelity whilst he was in India and Afghanistan.
Also, I suspect that his account of the utter disaster of the British retreat from Kabul in 1842 (and also the events leading up to it) is not that bad.
By the way, Henry Flashman was a character in Tom Brown’s School Days and this Flashman is intended to be him – in fact, it begins with the expulsion of Flashman, related in that book.