Ralph Oughtred has few ambitions - to be rich, or at least out of debt, to eventually marry his charming mistress, and to get into the Royal Academy.
An amiable rake in Georgian London, Ralph is an artist who thinks he's got it made when he wins a big commission to paint the Duke of Wellington's generals. But before he can put brush to canvas they're whisked off to Portugal to fight Napoleon, and he must follow or lose the money. In a comic romp through Portugal and Spain in the train of the British army, Ralph leads the reader through war, art, sex, love, travelogue, musings on life and a lot of drinking. He's recruited as a spy, accidentally leads a cavalry charge, makes love to an officer's wife during the Battle of Porto, and is captured by the French.
A man of his time and an everyman bound to the wheel of fortune, Ralph travels the road of the reluctant hero from innocence to experience. But he's intelligent and complex and his adventures will appeal to the reader who wants their history to live, their escapism to be philosophical and their narratives lyrical. The book is written with a deft, light touch; there's just enough accurate military history, and the characters - Ralph and his friends, and the generals he paints - are varied and amusing.
Artist at Large is that rare bird, a novel that is literary, historical and funny, a stylish evocation of the history and manners of an era, and an entertainment of the highest order.
Caroline Miley is an art historian and writer with a long-time passion for art, history and literature. After several years writing art and craft criticism and social comment, she realised her lifelong ambition, fiction writing. Her novels include The Competition, about an artist in Georgian England who becomes involved with the Luddites, and Artist on Campaign, a comic romp in which a Georgian era artist gets a commission to paint the Duke of Wellington's generals, but finds he's got more than he bargained for. Learn more at: www.carolinemiley.com or https: //www.facebook.com/carolinemileywriter/