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Reviewed by Stephanie Dagg for Readers' Favorite
The "Tide of Destiny" by Nigel Patten is as excellent an example of historical fiction as you are ever likely to get. Set in the Napoleonic era in southern Switzerland and then north-eastern Italy, it is the story of Damien André Berry, one of the many forgotten celebrities of their time who pass into oblivion. We meet Damien as a young man working with his father on his farm and having an affair with the Mayor’s daughter, Biquette. Life is good. But then along comes the French army in need of conscripts. Damien takes to the mountains to escape and over time works his way into Italy, meeting more delightful women and developing his story-writing talents. All this is against the background of a period dominated by “Little Crop Head”, Napoleon Bonaparte, and his various military campaigns, and rigid Catholicism.
This book is so easy to read. I don’t know about a tide of destiny, but you will certainly get swept along on the tide of Patten’s writing. He brings the period and the people vibrantly to life, Damien most of all. We see the harshness of so many lives at that time. The book includes two of Damien’s own stories, Alpine Genisis and Scenti, and it is fascinating to see how the inspiration for those so clearly came from his own life and experiences. They also show why he was such a controversial figure. "The Tide of Destiny" is the compelling account of a period in a talented, complicated writer’s life. If only Patten could give such treatment to all of history’s forgotten heroes and heroines!