Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Review: The Oak Apple, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
#4: Covers 1630-1649; the Civil War
The Ok Apple, the fourth book in the Morland Dynasty series, takes its reader to 17th century York, just before and during the Civil War. The Morland family is a house divided as Kit Morland joins the Royalist forces under Prince Rupert, his brother Ralph marries a Puritan, and Edmund Morland, the family patriarch, tries to be impartial. Hero Hamilton marries Kit, while her twin, Hamil, bitter over her marriage, joins the same side of the war as his enemy. And Ambrose and Nell Morland move to the New World, where they build a settlement in Maryland.
I’m a little hazy about the details of the Civil War, so The Oak Apple was a great re-introduction to the period. I’m usually bored by descriptions of battles, but Harrod-Eagles makes the battles of Marston Moor and Naseby some alive on the page. But the best part of this novel are the people and the way they interact with one another; Harrod-Eagles may not be the world’s greatest writer, but she knows how to create fantastic people and plots that suck you in.
There’s a large time gap between the events in this book and those in the previous book The Princeling, but I found it was really easy to connect with the characters here. One of my favorites was Ruth, the dark horse of the family, who, unwed, bears Annunciata, a character I became familiar with through reading The Black Pearl a few months ago. Ruth isn’t your typical pretty girl (instead, she’s rather plain), and she holds up under an incredible amount of pressure both during the war and when the man she loves marries another woman. My only problem was with the dog named Dog—it seemed to live an awfully long time (nineteen-plus years). In all, a really fine addition to the series, and I can’t wait to read what comes next.