Sharpe's Christmas Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sharpe's Christmas.
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Sharpe's Christmas Summary & Study Guide Description

Sharpe's Christmas Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Sharpe's Christmas by Bernard Cornwell.

"Sharpe's Christmas" by Bernard Cornwell is a collection of two stories about Major Richard Sharpe, both written for the Christmas editions of a newspaper. In "Sharpe's Christmas", Sharpe must defend Irati against a brigade of French soldiers on the north and a French garrison fleeing Spain from the south. In "Sharpe's Ransom", Sharpe attempts to rescue his woman and their child from French hussars seeking gold that they insist Sharpe possesses. Both stories in "Sharpe's Christmas" are very entertaining and reveal a level to Cornwell's hero beyond his expertise as a soldier.

In the Introduction, Cornwell explains that he wrote both stories for Christmas editions of a London newspaper. In "Sharpe's Christmas", Major Richard Sharpe and his men are sent to Irati to prevent the French garrison from the fort at Ochagavia from fleeing Spain. Meanwhile, Colonel Jean Gudin, a failure, worries about escaping to France but argues with Colonel Caillou, insisting that they are not abandoning the women and children. When Sharpe notices a French brigade marching from the north, he prepares for battle because the next day he will have an enemy in front, an enemy behind, a road to hold and a battle to win. As Picard leads his brigade toward Irati, he hopes the British are there because his troops need a victory to make them desire it. While Sharpe defends Irati against the French brigade, Gudin hears musketry in the distance during his march toward Irati, so he prays for a victory. Sharpe knows the garrison is approaching from the south but hopes they will surrender since they have women with them. His men defeat the French brigade at the frontier to the north of Irati, causing the brigade to retreat, and Sharpe sends d'Alembord and Nicholls to offer the garrison a chance to surrender; however, when Gudin and Caillou argue about who is in charge, Caillou shoots Nicholls and Gudin kills Caillou. After agreeing to talk to the commanding officer, Gudin is glad to see Sharpe and is very proud of him. He surrenders and tells Sharpe about his many failures. Sharpe and his men put on an elaborate display of musketry to make it appear that Gudin defeated the English, allowing Gudin to escape Spain and be hailed as a hero.

In "Sharpe's Ransom", Sharpe lives in Normandy with Lucille and Patrick, their son, but the villagers do not welcome him because Jacques Malan forbids them to do so. While Sharpe is hunting foxes on Christmas Eve, six men enter his farmhouse and capture Lucille, Patrick and Marie, their house servant. Sharpe returns home to learn that Lorcet and his five hussars want Napoleon's gold, which Sharpe recovered after Pierre Ducos stole it. They hold his family as ransom while he leaves to retrieve the gold with half of the men guarding him. After driving through the village, Sharpe overturns the cart and captures the three men, but now he must make friends which is the hard part for a soldier like him. When Challon gropes Lucille, she splatters boiling grease on his hand and promises Sharpe will kill them when he returns. Sharpe enters the village church with his three prisoners, followed by Malan and his crew. After sharing the story about Napoleon's gold, Sharpe asks his neighbors to help him rescue his family. He and Malan argue, but Malan agrees to help when he recognizes the soldier in Sharpe. Since Lorcet plans to kill Sharpe and Lucille anyway, Challon intends to rape Lucille but is interrupted when a choir starts singing outside the gate to Chateau Lassan. Meanwhile, Malan leads Sharpe across stones left from a destroyed bridge to Chateau Lassan, up the stone wall, onto the chapel roof and through the attic window; the men are ready to go to war. As Challon undresses and prepares to rape Lucille, Sharpe and Malan attack him from the attic, rescuing Lucille, Patrick and Marie. After Lorcet surrenders, Sharpe locks the six men in the unused chapel while he celebrates Christmas with his family and his neighbors.

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