Flashman Author:George MacDonald Fraser No dust jacket or LC number; probably a book club edition. From Wikipedia: — Presented within the frame of the supposedly discovered historical Flashman Papers, this book describes the bully Flashman from Tom Brown's Schooldays. The book begins with an explanatory note saying that the Flashman Papers were discovered in 1965 during a sale of hous... more »ehold furniture in Ashby, Leicestershire. The papers are attributed to Harry Paget Flashman, who is not only the bully featured in Thomas Hughes' novel, but also a well known Victorian military hero (in Fraser's fictional England). The papers were supposedly written between 1900 and 1905. The subsequent publishing of these papers, of which Flashman is the first, contrasts the previously believed exploits of a (fictional) hero with his own more scandalous account, which shows the life of a cowardly bully. Flashman begins with his own account of expulsion from Rugby and ends with his fame as the "Hector of Afghanistan", detailing his life from 1839 to 1842 and his travels to Scotland, India, and Afghanistan. It also contains a number of notes by the author, in the guise of a fictional editor, giving additional historical information on the events described. The history in these books is quite accurate; most of the people Flashman meets are real people.
Flashman's expulsion from Rugby for drunkenness leads him to join the Army for what he hopes will be a sinecure. He joins the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons commanded by Lord Cardigan whom he toadies in his best style. After an affair with a fellow officer's lover, he is forced to fight a duel but wins after promising a large sum of money to the pistol loader to give his opponent a blank load in his gun. He does not kill his opponent but instead delopes and accidentally shoots the top off a bottle thirty yards away, an action that gives him instant fame and the respect of the Duke of Wellington. However, once it was found out what they were fighting over, Flashman is stationed in Scotland. He is quartered with the Morrison family, and soon enough he takes advantage of one of the daughters, Elspeth. After a forced marriage, Flashman is required to resign the Hussars due to marrying below his station. He is given another option, to make his reputation in India.
By showing off his language and riding skills in India, Flashman is assigned to the worst frontier of the British Empire at that time, Afghanistan. His adventures include the retreat from Kabul, Last Stand at Gandamak and the Siege of Jalalabad, in the First Anglo-Afghan War. Despite being captured, tortured, and escaping death numerous times, and hiding and shirking his duty as much as possible, he comes through it all alive and with a hero's reputation... although his triumph is tempered when he realises his wife might have been unfaithful while he was away.« less