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The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale
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Published:
W. W. Norton & Company 2015
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Description

The most beguiling and distinctive debut novel of the season: the Battle of Waterloo...as told by a rabbit.

On June 17, 1815, the Duke of Wellington amassed his troops at Hougoumont, an ancient farmstead not far from Waterloo. The next day, the French attacked—the first shots of the Battle of Waterloo—sparking a brutal, day-long skirmish that left six thousand men either dead or wounded.

William is a white rabbit living at Hougoumont today. Under the tutelage of his mysterious and wise grandmother Old Lavender, William attunes himself to the echoes and ghosts of the battle, and through a series of adventures he comes to recognize how deeply what happened at Waterloo two hundred years before continues to reverberate. "Nature," as Old Lavender says, "never truly recovers from human cataclysms."

The Sage of Waterloo is a playful retelling of a key turning point in human history, full of vivid insights about Napoleon, Wellington, and the battle itself—and a slyly profound reflection on our place in the world.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/01/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393246926
ASIN:
B00OD8Z0FU
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Leona Francombe. (2015). The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Leona Francombe. 2015. The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Leona Francombe, The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Leona Francombe. The Sage of Waterloo: A Tale. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:50:23
Date Updated:
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        Leona Francombe is a classical pianist who attended Bryn Mawr College and the Yale School of Music. She lives in Brussels, Belgium, with her husband and two children.

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shortDescription

The most beguiling and distinctive debut novel of the season: the Battle of Waterloo...as told by a rabbit.

On June 17, 1815, the Duke of Wellington amassed his troops at Hougoumont, an ancient farmstead not far from Waterloo. The next day, the French attacked—the first shots of the Battle of Waterloo—sparking a brutal, day-long skirmish that left six thousand men either dead or wounded.

William is a white rabbit living at Hougoumont today. Under the tutelage of his mysterious and wise grandmother Old Lavender, William attunes himself to the echoes and ghosts of the battle, and through a series of adventures he comes to recognize how deeply what happened at Waterloo two hundred years before continues to reverberate. "Nature," as Old Lavender says, "never truly recovers from human cataclysms."

The Sage of Waterloo is a playful retelling of a key turning point in human history, full of vivid insights about Napoleon, Wellington, and the battle...

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True
title
The Sage of Waterloo
fullDescription

The most beguiling and distinctive debut novel of the season: the Battle of Waterloo...as told by a rabbit.

On June 17, 1815, the Duke of Wellington amassed his troops at Hougoumont, an ancient farmstead not far from Waterloo. The next day, the French attacked—the first shots of the Battle of Waterloo—sparking a brutal, day-long skirmish that left six thousand men either dead or wounded.

William is a white rabbit living at Hougoumont today. Under the tutelage of his mysterious and wise grandmother Old Lavender, William attunes himself to the echoes and ghosts of the battle, and through a series of adventures he comes to recognize how deeply what happened at Waterloo two hundred years before continues to reverberate. "Nature," as Old Lavender says, "never truly recovers from human cataclysms."

The Sage of Waterloo is a playful retelling of a key turning point in human history, full of vivid insights about Napoleon, Wellington, and the battle itself—and a slyly profound reflection on our place in the world.

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crossRefId
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Laline Paull;The New York Times Book Review
      • content: Move out from the towering shadow of Watership Down, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the bold conceit of seeing a pivotal moment in history from the height of a blade of grass.... A wise white rabbit is as good a guide as any to helping us think through war.
      • premium: False
      • source: David Kaymer;Library Journal (starred review)
      • content: Gentle and poetic, [The Sage of Waterloo] is an eloquent reflection on the nature and cost of war&8230; Everything in this little book is perfect.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jason Sheehan;NPR.org
      • content: Lovely.... Francombe can turn a phrase, no doubt. There's an air of naturalist poetry to her words.
      • premium: False
      • source: Lydia Millet;BookPage
      • content: Written by a concert pianist who abides in Europe, about the Battle of Waterloo seen through the eyes of an erudite bunny . . . The Sage of Waterloo [is] dignified and poignant, as well as sad, with a gentle humor befitting gentle lagomorphs.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jaclyn Fulwood;Shelf Awareness
      • content: A debut filled with history and whimsy.... Part historical chronicle, part adventure story, Francombe's unconventional debut hops along in crowd-pleasing fashion.
      • premium: False
      • source: Allison Chopin;New York Daily News
      • content: A playful retelling.
      • premium: False
      • source: Thomas Chatterton Williams;San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: Inventive [and] beautifully written.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 13, 2015
        A clever premise is squandered in the debut from pianist turned author Francombe. In opening scenes full of potential, the novel introduces a family of rabbits who live on the farm at Hougoumont (in modern-day Belgium), where part of the Battle of Waterloo was fought. Across the generations, these rabbits have curated an oral history of the battle, filling quiet time in the hutch debating details and analyzing tactics. William, the narrator, is the only white rabbit in the colony; his grandmother, Old Lavender, is the family’s resident Waterloo expert. Eventually Old Lavender disappears, and William is taken from the farm to become a pet, but these moments are buffered by so much battlefield minutiae that they reduce excitement. The charm of the premise erodes as scene after scene piles up of the rabbits presenting history lessons with almost nothing happening in the present—Francombe underscores this weakness late in the novel by having William summarize what little plot there has been in half a page. There is one dynamite line—“Nature never truly recovers from human cataclysms”—and it’s repeated twice, as if to impose a thesis. But so little has happened with so little at stake that the novel fails to make an emotional or intellectual impact.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 1, 2015
        If Watership Down were to meet the Flashman novels-well, the result still wouldn't be quite like this perky debut, not until you threw in a little Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, maybe. Rabbits don't live overly long. William, a white rabbit-cue Jefferson Airplane on the soundtrack if you will and must-is 11, a ripeness that "obliges me to press on with my storytelling." William is a winsome character, his granny, Old Lavender, a little less tender but always good for a morsel of wisdom: "The most interesting things in life cannot be seen, William," she intones, which is perhaps why lagomorphs-not rodents, mind you-are so committed to digging deep down into the earth. In debut novelist Francombe's charming confection, William determines that the burrow in which he lives was once part of the Belgian battlefield on which Napoleon and Wellington slugged it out for the last time, which means that plenty of ancestral rabbits must have been blown to bits two centuries ago but also that the survivors "had not been too traumatized to procreate." Chasing down the reverberations of that history through modern rabbitdom, Francombe would seem to be serving up an allegory, and though what she's allegorizing isn't exactly clear-war, memory, the importance of family, and maybe even rabbit-free cuisine are all thematic candidates-she never lets on that this coney island of the mind isn't an impossibility. Nicely developed, too, is her sense of how rabbits think of time: there isn't a lot of it in their world, but that doesn't mean that one needs to scamper about mindlessly, for, to quote William by way of Old Lavender once more, "to do something important at the wrong moment is worse than not doing it at all." You'd look high and low, too, for a better description of how rabbits actually are-twitchy and pensive but also content to spend their days "eyes half shut, contemplating the infinite." Engaging, pleasantly written, and endlessly inventive: all promising signs and a reader's delight.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2015

        Just when it seemed nothing new could be written about the Battle of Waterloo, this delightful fable appears: Waterloo, or rather the critical battle for Hougoumont, as refracted through the memories--smells and sounds as much as sight--of countless generations of rabbits and narrated by one white rabbit, William, whose ancestor may have lived there. Hougoumont proves the importance of the real estate agent's motto: "location, location, location." Napoleon needed to take the farmhouse, and quickly, in order to break Wellington's troops before reinforcements arrived, but the battle waged for hours and over 6,000 men were killed. At the end, Napoleon won the farm but lost his war. He barely had time to rally forces for a final assault, when the Germans under Blucher arrived; all was lost for the diminutive Corsican. Gentle and poetic, William's narrative is an eloquent reflection on the nature and cost of war. VERDICT History looks different seen from the ground up. Everything in this little book is perfect. As the 200th anniversary of Waterloo draws near, this debut novel will be satisfy lovers of both history and fiction.--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Tale
popularity
16
publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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