Some novels deserve to be read despite all the author’s efforts to render them unreadable. Beau Sabreur falls into that category.
Half of P. C. Wren’s Beau Sabreur is the fictional memoir of Major Henri de Beaujolais; the other half tells basically the same events from the perspective of two French Foreign Legion deserters.
Beau Sabreur by Percival Christopher Wren
Grosset & Dunlap, 1925, 1926. 1926 bestseller #5. My grade: C+.
Henri’s uncle, who heads France’s war ministry, plans to build a French African empire.
He wants his nephew to be his tool.
He volunteers for military service, enters cavalry training, and in due course Henri is posted to Africa where he becomes a secret agent.
Henri receives orders from his uncle to negotiate a federation of tribal leaders that will align with France against a Islamic caliphate.
As jihadists strike Zaguig, Henri and his men smuggled two white women out with them.
Henri’s men are killed.
He and the women are captured by Arabs who want the women for their wives.
Henri wants Mary Vanbrugh for his wife, but does he love her more than he loves his county?
The romance is predictable and silly, but the split perspective actually ruins the novel.
Beau Sabreur is worth reading today only for its anticipation of 21st century jihaddists and the emergence of Africa as a economic force.
©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni