What an amazing book! It is such a surprise how this simple tale, told in such a simple fashion contains such realism.
It begins almost as a comedy of manners, but this is the perfect foil for the rest of the novel. The beginning sets out the norm for the characters which is later turned upside down, placing the conditions of the siege in vivid contrast.
Louise, in particular, begins as a pampered young socialite and ends as a woman of substance, capable of survival throughout the most horrific of occasions. A particularly memorable detail is the way her body odour repels one of her old suitors at the eventual lifting of the siege.
Other characters undergo similar transformations: Lucy the ‘fallen woman’ becomes a suitable wife for an officer; Harry changes from fop to hero.
The siege puts everything into perspective. The views of society are of no consequence when you have no idea whether you will even live to see the end of the day.