Sergeant Lamb's America - Robert Graves
This account of the northern campaign at the start of the War of Independence makes a pleasant and rather idiosyncratic novel. It contains far more analysis and description than action; Graves all too obviously did a lot of research in period sources, and it sometimes sounds like he's repeating it verbatim. Nonetheless, in putting these reflections in the mouth of one Sergeant Roger Lamb, native of Dublin, Graves gives them color and unity. Perhaps it's understandable that Lamb has a tendency to informative lectures, being a schoolmaster by profession! The best part of it, of course, is the small incidents and character anecdotes (all taken from real life, says the author in his introduction). The only incidents invented are those relating to Lamb's private and romantic life, and those alone have a certain melodrama to them. (It breaks off with several plot threads unresolved, and vague promises of a sequel.) The novel is written in smooth, clear language with a moderate eighteenth-century flavor; certainly many writers could take lessons in clarity from it.