<--Previous Review Click Here to Return to Index of Reviews
Click Here to Return to Home Page
Next Review-->
Click the Cover Picture or Title to purchase this item from Amazon.com -- a new browser window will open.
Slow Waters Run Deep
Mr American
George MacDonald Fraser

Some years before the beginning of the First World War, Mr Franklin arrives in England, carrying a carpet bag, a brace of Remington revolvers and a bank draft worth a fortune in gold.

Fraser uses this auspicious beginning to give us a view of Edwardian society from top to bottom, its highs and lows, its glories and its hypocrisies.

Mr Franklin has come to England to seek out the village from which his ancestors had emigrated in the 17th Century and to settle there; if he has any expectations at all, it is that he will live a quiet life in a small, sleepy village. Of course, since this is a book by George MacdDonald Fraser, this is not at all what happens -- and thereby hang four stars worth of reading enjoyment.

From his accidental but most enjoyable encounter with London showgirl Pip, to his accidental but portentous encounter with a distinguished gentleman in the country who, despite his incognito, has a rather royal manner, through his accidental but amusing brushes with Fraser's charming rotter, the elderly but still randy Harry Flashman (even the young Churchill runs a bit shy of Sir Harry) and a hair-raising reminder of his past in America, Mr Franklin takes it all in stride, with a slightly bewildered interest...

It takes love to disturb him sufficiently that he will take decisive action.

An action that will be silhouetted against the backdrop of the beginning of World War One and its time.

This is not the rollicking romp that the Flashman books are, nor is it the cheerful, sometimes touching military fiction of The General Danced at Dawn and Fraser's other "Dand McNeill" stories (Collected in their entirety in The Complete McAuslan, and well worth your time.)  ... But it is a picture of a fascinating time and place that seems so recent in some ways and so long ago in others, a picture that helps to open and illuminate that time and place for the modern reader as, slowly but surely, it slips from living memory into "recent history", about which, if, as has been said, "the past is a different country", one can say that recent history is a foreign country that lies just outside our own borders.

And, as when one visits such deceptively familiar but ultimately foreign places, one is advised to engage the services of a reliable native guide and translator to get the maximum enjoyment out of your visit. Accept Mr Fraser's offer to act in that capacity, and travel back to that time...