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Old 11-28-2021, 04:18 PM   #1
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The Red Cockade by Stanley Weyman (Discussion)

Here's the discussion thread for The Red Cockade by Stanley Weyman. You can find it in the Mobileread library.

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The Red Cockade is a Dumas-like swashbuckling historical romance, set around 1789 in Cahors and Nimes at the time of the French Revolution, and tells of the adventures of an aristocrat sympathetic to the cause of the people. The San Francisco Chronicle said this one 'deserves a place among the best historical fiction of the latter part of this [the nineteenth] century.' One of Weyman's finest.
(Here's the nomination thread and the voting thread for December, genre romance.)
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Old 11-29-2021, 04:54 AM   #2
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I'm a quarter of the way in, and it's reading much more like a historical fiction than a romance. But assuming it is a romance, the protaganists have been introduced. Given the circumstances, a HEA seems unlikely, but I guess that's why it's a story...
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Old 11-29-2021, 02:35 PM   #3
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I'm a quarter of the way in, and it's reading much more like a historical fiction than a romance.
Yes, I realised during the nomination thread that "romance" is used for two different genres: The modern one (stories about a romantic relationship with a happy ending), and another, older meaning of the word, something like dramatic adventure story, maybe?
I had hoped to get lots of recommendations for modern romances, but since that didn't happen, I'm fine with the book that was chosen, even if it's not quite in the genre I had in mind.

I'm a couple of chapters in, and I like the protagonist. He's got his heart in the right place, but is far from a perfect hero: He doubts and hesitates, while doing his best to live up to his ideals. I also liked his reaction when meeting his almost-fiance: When he sees that she is small, shy, and childish, he doesn't fall madly in love, but is disappointed -- a refreshing contrast with the beginning of "East Lynne".
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Old 12-04-2021, 07:09 PM   #4
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I'm a couple of chapters in, and I like the protagonist. He's got his heart in the right place, but is far from a perfect hero: He doubts and hesitates, while doing his best to live up to his ideals. I also liked his reaction when meeting his almost-fiance: When he sees that she is small, shy, and childish, he doesn't fall madly in love, but is disappointed -- a refreshing contrast with the beginning of "East Lynne".
I agree with this; I like that the hero is flawed. Most human of all is not just his reluctance to cede his privileges of birth, but that they’re so ingrained in him. And yes, it’s impossible to see Denise as the participant in a grand passion, but I’ll wait and see how it plays out.

I have never seen Necker’s name spelled as it is in my edition, though; it is just a Project Gutenberg flaw (Neckar ) and the correct spelling prevails in other downloads?
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Old 12-06-2021, 05:01 PM   #5
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I also think that Saux is believable, especially in his feeling that it would be so much simpler to go along with the majority of his fellow aristocrats, rather than remain true to his principles. That can be a hard thing to do.

Thanks for selecting this book. I read and loved Weyman’s books in my distant youth, though I have no memory of reading this one.
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Old 12-06-2021, 05:18 PM   #6
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Yes, I realised during the nomination thread that "romance" is used for two different genres: The modern one (stories about a romantic relationship with a happy ending), and another, older meaning of the word, something like dramatic adventure story, maybe?
I had hoped to get lots of recommendations for modern romances, but since that didn't happen, I'm fine with the book that was chosen, even if it's not quite in the genre I had in mind.

I'm a couple of chapters in, and I like the protagonist. He's got his heart in the right place, but is far from a perfect hero: He doubts and hesitates, while doing his best to live up to his ideals. I also liked his reaction when meeting his almost-fiance: When he sees that she is small, shy, and childish, he doesn't fall madly in love, but is disappointed -- a refreshing contrast with the beginning of "East Lynne".
I am disappointed that it wasn't the romance genre you were looking for. Romance isn't a genre I normally read, so was hoping for something a little different.

It was an ingeresting read, as far as the French revolution part. Didn't seem like much of a HEA or HFN.

And thank you, hildea, for running the club this month.
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Old 12-09-2021, 05:10 PM   #7
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I have never seen Necker’s name spelled as it is in my edition, though; it is just a Project Gutenberg flaw (Neckar ) and the correct spelling prevails in other downloads?
In the edition from the Mobileread library, it's spelled "Necker".

Spoiler for chapter 11:
Spoiler:
It was a bit of a shock that the author killed off captain Hugues! He seemed like a competent person who could add some badly needed sense to the Comittee


I'm in chapter 18 now. I've been reading other stuff in between -- I admit I lost a lot of sympathy with the protagonist around the time I lost track of how many times he's switched loyalties back and forth. Now it seems he picks whatever cockade serves his own purposes at the moment.

I still want to see where the story goes, so I've definitively not given up on it!


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I am disappointed that it wasn't the romance genre you were looking for. Romance isn't a genre I normally read, so was hoping for something a little different.
Maybe I'll try again some time later
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:50 PM   #8
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I'm in chapter 18 now. I've been reading other stuff in between -- I admit I lost a lot of sympathy with the protagonist around the time I lost track of how many times he's switched loyalties back and forth. Now it seems he picks whatever cockade serves his own purposes at the moment.
Well, I think survival plays a part. But also it must have been a time of extraordinary chaos and confusion. It would be hard to know what was going on and who stood for what.

I am amused by the amazing coincidences of his various meetings on the road.
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Old 12-19-2021, 08:46 PM   #9
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So have people finished the book? I enjoyed it as a well written swashbuckler, set in a different part of France from the usual setting of Paris in the Revolution. From the bit of googling I did, Weyman made good use of real historical events in Nîmes in 1790.

While Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety remains for me the best novel I have ever read about the Revolution, I thought he did well in conveying the chaos and confusion of the time, and the feeling of not always knowing who stood for what.
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Old 12-20-2021, 03:49 AM   #10
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I enjoyed it as a well written swashbuckler, set in a different part of France from the usual setting of Paris in the Revolution. [...] I thought he did well in conveying the chaos and confusion of the time, and the feeling of not always knowing who stood for what.
It was a good historical novel, in that I thought it brought that brief period to life rather well. Especially, as you say, the chaos and confusion.

I thought the portrayal of the arrogance of the upper classes, including that of our 'hero' was well done.

I was unconvinced by the Romance aspect of the story.

It was OK overall for me. I'm not inclined to seek out other works by this author.
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Old 12-31-2021, 04:48 AM   #11
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I put it aside for a while to read more tempting books, but now I've picked it up again and intend to finish it. The hero is now in Nimes and has met Denise again.

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I am amused by the amazing coincidences of his various meetings on the road.
Heh, I agree A lot of amazing coincidences in Nimes as well.

I can't remember any explanation for the red cockade -- was it there, and I overlooked it?
There's the tricolor cockade of the revolution, and the white cockade the nobility wears in the beginning. Then we saw Denise wearing a red cockade, telling a story I thought was a lie about wearing it for the person she loves. And in Nimes it seems from context that the red cockade is the symbol of the anti-revolution church faction, but I can't remember anyone talking about it?

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I was unconvinced by the Romance aspect of the story.
I agree. I can well believe getting a crush on each other after the dramatic night of the fire, but they have hardly spoken to each other, so those strong feelings of love aren't convincing to me.
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Old 01-01-2022, 05:40 AM   #12
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I found it a fairly enjoyable historical novel set during the French Revolution with a romantic subplot. The hero is reasonably likeable not least because as Issybird said he is none to eager to give up his aristocratic privileges and takes class consciousness very seriously. Still, he does have sympathy for the poor and as the adventure unfolds so do his views evolve.

There is the noble villain and the tough mother of the hero’s romantic interest. Personally, I found both to be far more interesting than Denise who has practically no agency and is a rather boring stereotype. Generally she is there to be abducted and rescued.

But the excitement and the vivid recreation of the period keeps one reading.

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Old 01-01-2022, 07:09 PM   #13
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I can't remember any explanation for the red cockade -- was it there, and I overlooked it?

There's the tricolor cockade of the revolution, and the white cockade the nobility wears in the beginning. Then we saw Denise wearing a red cockade, telling a story I thought was a lie about wearing it for the person she loves. And in Nimes it seems from context that the red cockade is the symbol of the anti-revolution church faction, but I can't remember anyone talking about it?
As I recall, it was the cockade worn by Froment's followers in Nîmes, but we didn't really have any explanation for it. They supported the king, and so you would have expected them to wear a white cockade. Also I can't find any reference to it when I google it, so maybe Weyman made it up.

Given that it is the title of the book, it is curious, but perhaps Weyman uses it as a symbol of the confusion of the times, as its significance was not known beyond Nîmes.
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Old 01-01-2022, 07:10 PM   #14
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There is the noble villain and the tough mother of the hero’s romantic interest. Personally, I found both to be far more interesting than Denise who has practically no agency and is a rather boring stereotype. Generally she is there to be abducted and rescued.

But the excitement and the vivid recreation the period keeps one reading.
I agree fantasyfan and I do like your phrase about Denise's role being someone to be abducted and rescued!
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Old 01-02-2022, 06:37 AM   #15
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I agree fantasyfan and I do like your phrase about Denise's role being someone to be abducted and rescued!
Yes, she didn't ever do anything, and could have been replaced with a sexy lamp. Sigh.

I've finished it now, and it seems to me that de Vieux didn't make a difference, and didn't really grow or change during the story. He might as well have accepted the white cockade in the beginning of the novel, married Denise, and stayed at home.

The book gave a good impression of the chaotic nature of the time, but I never connected with any of the characters, so I wouldn't rate it more than OK.
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