War is a time when women can do as they wish . . .This complex and beautifully written book brings to life the fascinating world of Regency England, a time of war, great scientific advancements and the Romantic poets. Like War and Peace and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, two other engrossing Napoleonic era novels, this is a big story thickly populated with lots of well-drawn and engaging characters, both historical and fictional, but if a large cast is not something you enjoy Tides of War will not be a good choice. The story revolves around Harriet and James Raven, who are barely married before he is sent off to fight under Lord Wellington in Portugal and Spain. Though their passion was strong they inevitably drift apart as he becomes consumed with his life as a soldier and she is left to her own devices, pursuing her interest in science and seeking company elsewhere. The expanded freedom the Napoleonic Wars gave to women like Harriet Raven and Lord Wellington’s unloved wife Kitty Wellington is one of the more intriguing parts of the novel and something I hadn’t considered before, but not all of the book’s characters are from the upper classes. One of the more moving stories woven into Tides of War is that of James Raven’s servant Thomas Orde, who went to war in the hopes of increasing his fortune but who returns home scarred by the conflict and unemployable, his considerable skills as a weaver now made obsolete by the town’s new mill.