Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: The Flood-Tide, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles


#9: 1772-1789; covers the American Revolution; Enclosure

It is the eve of the American Revolution—a time where there is “a tide in the thoughts of men, and the tide is making.” Jemima is the family matriarch, married to Allen Macallen and the mother of seven. Thomas Morland a captain in the Navy, while Jemima’s son William joins as a midshipman. Meanwhile, their cousin Charles, a botanist and entomologist, cuts himself off from the family in order to marry a Creole woman in Maryland; and Henri Stuart, illegitimate son of Aliena’s daughter, is a libertine in Paris.

Another strong addition to the series; the gaps between books are shorter, and the time covered is also getting shorter, which is definitely a good thing. CHE focuses a lot more on character development so that the reader finds themselves rooting for the protagonists—even Henri, though his deception with regards to his wife truly is despicable. With regards to the married couples in this novel, the only marriage that truly is happy is Allen and Jemima’s—they’re a bit too smug-married-couple at times, but they’re a nice foil to the dysfunctional marriages here.

Harrod-Eagles always smuggles in a bit of history with her fiction; this time she mostly covers the American Revolution and the Enclosure Acts that so changed the landscape of England in the late 18th century. There are other, smaller, changes, too, as Morland Place gains a bell system for its servants. We witness the Revolution mostly from afar, from sea rather than by land, but nonetheless, I was entertained by Harrod-Eagles’s telling of the story. The book ends at the start of the French Revolution, and I look forward to reading more in the next book in the series, The Tangled Thread.

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