Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

TOM BURKE OF OURS is an excellent example of the rough-and-ready style of fiction that made Charles Lever famous. The vivacity of the novel, the picture it presents of devil-may-care, hard-riding Irish gentry, and a certain down-to-earth comic realism, make it entertaining reading. The book presents a vivid picture of the life and sentiments prevalent in Ireland during the early nineteenth century.

Lever, the most popular of nineteenth century Irish novelists, was a great admirer of Napoleon, so much so that TOM BURKE OF OURS presents one of the most idealized portraits of that historical personage to be found in any literature. In a preface to this novel, Lever called the Napoleonic period the most wonderful and eventful in modern history. The story proper covers Napoleon’s career from the days of the first consulship to the fall of the empire. Although theatrical, the plot is absorbing, and the battle scenes, particularly those of Austerlitz, Jena, and the engagements of the famous “Week of Glory,” are presented with dash and brilliance. As a result, the book has the vividness and swift action of a good film. The chief defect of the work is the fact that Lever, intent upon telling a romantic story, maintains no consistent point of view in his presentation of either the history or the society of the period.

TOM BURKE OF OURS is the story of a second son, a younger brother who must make his own way in the...

(The entire section is 562 words.)