Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may be best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, but they were not his favorites. He loved the stories that promoted the chivalric ethos, even if they sometimes made fun of their heroes, as here. Gerard is a cavalry officer who is devoted to Napoleon and is incapable of seeing the world through any other lens. Rupert Degas is reliably excellent as the ego-inflated officer who fails to see the differences between French and English values, remaining fully confident through what most of us would consider the most embarrassing situations. But Degas never loses touch with the man's innate courage, grace, and devotion to his principles.
With a horse between his thighs and a weapon in his grip, the dashing Brigadier Etienne Gerard, Colonel of the Hussars of Conflans, gallops through the Napoleonic campaigns on secret missions for his beloved Emperor and his country. He encounters danger and hair-breadth escapes but never loses his bravado, his eye for a pretty girl, his boastfulness or his enormous vanity.
Gerard is Conan Doyle’s most lovable character. At times hilarious, at times touching, these stories are amongst Conan Doyle’s most popular.
Public Domain (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
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"A French Flashman - Classic!"
This book was a wonderful find. I had not heard of Brigadier Etienne Gerard before finding it on Audible as I suspect he is somewhat eclipsed my ACD's arguably more enduring character; Sherlock Holmes.
Etienne is an endearing buffoon, deluded that he is the greatest swordsman, a dashing lover, a masterful horseman and the toast of the French Army. His exploits allow Conan Doyle to poke harmless fun at both the French and English traditions and stereotypes in equal measure and produces some genuinely hilarious moments in the process. Gerard is doubtless a brave man, but his desire to be chosen for absolutely any dangerous mission seems more driven by vanity and a wish to be seen as brave rather than for the sake of the missions objectives!
He is a 'Pepe Le Pew' character in the romantic department, continually making discreet, gentlemanly 'denials' as to his many conquests, but through ACD's subtle prose, there is no doubt in the readers mind that most of it is wishful thinking or delusional on the part of Gerard.
The narration was brilliant by Rupert Degas who faultlessly pulls of a faux-humble french accent that perfectly depicts Etienne's over-the-top but lovable character.
I will be listening to 'The Exploits of..' with the next available credits!
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