Cossacks in Paris: A Napoleonic Era Novel. Jeffrey Perren. ClioStory Publishing, Third Edition. November 2012. 462 pp. E-book. ASIN #: A00ADRAQJK.
Jeffrey Perren ingeniously blends two stories. One is a battle between Agripin the Cossack soldier and Breutier Armande the French engineer for the love and hand of Kaarina who is the daughter of the Finnish counselor to Tsar Alexander I. Kaarina, however, has a twin, who becomes a part of the puzzle as the characters meet frequently but are then parted during the frantic comings and goings of Napoleon and Alexander’s soldiers. Both twins, as well as Agripin and Breutier, escape hair-raising moments posing life and death risks that clearly parallel the brutally devastating war covering their travels.
Breutier has a plan to create sewers in Paris, an act that could save thousands from the rampant disease of the beautiful but unclean famous city, and another plan to create a steam-driven railroad system that would jettison the French economy beyond its wildest planning. But Breutier’s plans are stymied by Napoleon who conscripts him into the war that will ultimately be the tyrant’s well-deserved demise. Breutier escapes French service several times but always comes back or is forced back by other French officers and soldiers. His passion for Kaarina overrides loyalty to any leader, especially the manically driven Napoleon.
Agripin is a Cossack who betrays his soldierly heritage with his lust for the same woman Breutier has madly fallen in love with; however, technically speaking, Agripin is already engaged to Kaarina but that matters little to her pursuer. The culture of Cossacks is presented within the love and war story plots. Agripin comes across for most of the novel as the chief antagonist and yet there comes a point where a common goal mandates he put aside his homicidal intent toward Breutier for a more important mission that will affect European history forever.
Clearly, Perren has carried out extensive research on the military campaigns of Alexander and Napoleon who careen back and forth across Europe, trying to woo other leaders, especially Metternich, into joining their war. The reader is mesmerized by the determination of both leaders juxtaposed by the painfully difficult movement and battles of the soldiers fighting for victory.
Cossacks in Paris is a fine romantic, historical novel that will fascinate romance and history fans. The conflict between human nature and Mother Nature emerges in multiple ways that create tension, mystery, and fascination on almost every page. Very nicely done, Jeffrey Perren!