The Hour of Parade


I rate this book 5/5 Stars.   ☆☆☆☆☆

The past pressed on him so that he felt he must fall to his knees. If he could just tell Valsin all that had happened—then the younger man might understand and redeem them both.
One violent act draws together three very different people in Alan Bray’s haunting debut, The Hour of Parade.

The year is 1806, and Russian cavalry officer Alexi Ruzhensky journeys to Munich to kill the man responsible for murdering his brother in a duel, French officer Louis Valsin. Already thwarted once at the Battle of Austerlitz by Valsin’s lover, Anne-Marie, Alexi has been told by his father not to fail again.

Obsessed by the main character in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s novel Julie, Alexi becomes romantically entangled with a beautiful and passionate young Bavarian woman.

He hides his true identity and befriends Valsin and Anne-Marie, only to find that he has no thirst for blood. As the three grow closer, tensions mount as Alexi and Anne-Marie desperately try to resist their growing attraction.

But as the novel comes to its explosive conclusion, Alexi will learn that revenge cannot be forgotten so easily.



What I liked about this book:

I felt like I was reading a great literary work from the 18/19th Century with all its complexity.  Alan Bray has surpassed my expectations of detail of the differences between nations war, military uniforms in history, sexes, and customs of the day.  I learnt real history of the battle of Austerlitz in the most enjoyable way.

The book starts the way all great literatures begin, slowly and deliberately so that the reader gains an insight into all of the characters, their background and the settings and moral questions of life that have been sought throughout time. I was amazed at the details of customs and etiquettes of the day; how to dress, how to behave, expectation of women and men, and sexual liaisons. Such minute yet huge details such as:

In Russia, the bells were different-they didn’t swing but were fixed in their towers and struck by hammers so that the sound was a sharp crack.

Rousseau is at the centre of this story for Ruzhensky, and the emotions invoked by ‘Julie’ is so clearly affected in Bray’s character. The Hour of Parade has much of the philosophical discussion portrayed in its chapters as did the great writers of Rousseau’s time.

I enjoyed each character so much and how the story unfolded for each character, both individually and together.  I wanted to step back in time and join them for afternoon coffee in the cafe and discuss the news of the day.  I felt the despair, the anger and the longing through Bray’s words. The title so cleverly woven into the story as being a relatively small part has a huge impact on everyone.

This book satisfied my need to re-acquaint myself with the style of literature written during the early 19th century. I believe this book would be enjoyed by men and women who love classic literature. I look forward to reading more from Alan Bray.

There is nothing I dislike about this book.

Thanks to Netgalley for sending me this book for an honest review.

  • ISBN: 1490463224
  • (ISBN13: 9781490463223)
  • Edition: Hardback and Kindle
  • Pages: 312
  • Publisher:Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members’ Titles
  • Date Published: 15 November 2013
  • Available from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble .com , and others