The Tide Watchers by Lisa Chaplin (2.5 out of 5)
For years, people have made fun of me for reading and watching anything related to Napoleon. I guess he’s one of my favorite historical figures, and no, NOT because he was short, although I am. He was just a strange bird. As am I. Anyway, when I read about this book, I thought it was something I needed to read. I haven’t read a good historical fiction since February, and that was The Nightingale. Napoleon is mentioned in the book synopsis has having a strong part on the book. Well, he does and he doesn’t. If I say more, I’m giving spoilers away. This was an okay historical fiction read, but it’s not something that stays with you, challenges your view of world history, and it doesn’t make you want to rush out and recommend it to everyone.
Lisbeth is a free spirit who defies her father and elopes to France, but is left when her husband dumps her. She goes to her mother-in-law and retrieves her young son, who had been with her (that’s another strange plot twist in the novel). Duncan, aka THE TIDEWATCHER, comes out from the shadows and goes to great lengths to protect Lisbeth. He trained under her father and had promised him that he would protect her at all costs. Napoleon and his advancing army bring a “threat” to Lisbeth (another plot twist) in form of an invasion, so Duncan heads off to watch for signs of an invasion (in a war, not surprising), which brings him close to where Lisbeth is at (which is good, since he IS supposed to be protecting her).
In another arc to the story, Robert Fulton has just invented the steamboat, and Duncan now has to take control of it and cross enemy lines, so he has to enlist Lisbeth to help him do so. So this is where I’m led in multiple directions with this book. You’re either supposed to protect her or you’re supposed to put her directly in the line of danger? Free spirit or not, the father’s orders to Duncan are pretty clear early in the book, yet here he is, bringing her in as a “spy” to try to outwit the wily Napoleon and his army. Can she do it? Can Duncan save her and the country? Can YOU finish the book?
If I hadn’t been so much into Napoleon, I would have chucked this book into an imaginary fireplace about a third of the way into it. It just did not make me give a crap about either character. It also made me mad that they were boomeranging Lisbeth all over the place. If you promise the girl’s father that you’ll protect her, you shouldn’t throw her into enemy warfare. Yet Lisbeth is written in a way that you think she doesn’t mind, but it goes against Duncan’s character and worse yet, his promise. This novel goes all over the damn place, making it too distracting to concentrate on the overall story, and if you can’t concentrate on the overall story and the characters, how can you truly enjoy it? I liked both Lisbeth and Duncan as characters, but the “strong willed” Lisbeth comes off as dishwater in the presence of Duncan, while Duncan is “honorable” yet he throws Lisbeth to the sharks the moment he can’t figure out a way to infiltrate enemy lines and find out what Napoleon is up to. Last but not least? I wished for more Napoleon- as he’s listed as a large part of the plot, but there really isn’t much Napoleon. This is one of those books that I set down when I was done and shook my head over it. Writing this? Still shaking my head. It could’ve been so much more.