Original date of publication: 1996
My edition: 2007 (Sphere)
Why I decided to read: I’m working my way through the Morland Dynasty series
How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, December 2009
#19: Covers 1843-1848; early Victorian period
Finally, with Nicholas Morland’s death in The Abyss, the series shifts focus from the Morland brothers to other members of the family; in this case, specifically, Charlotte, daughter of Rosalind and Marcus. She has spent the first 21 years of her life living on relative poverty; but at her father’s death discovers that she’s a wealthy heiress. She is vaulted into high society London, in the company of her cousin Fanny, who is already out but not married. Charlotte forms an attachment to Oliver Fleetwood (who has a “reputation”), but disappointment leads her to become involved in philanthropy and medicine.
It’s a relief for the series to move away from the Morland brothers. In some of the previous books, there was a lot of tension and build-up, so it’s good to see some of that released with this installment in the series. Charlotte is a delightful character, quiet but strong-willed and independent. Fanny, the flirt, is the first of the two girls to fall in love; and although circumstances contrive to keep Charlotte and Oliver apart, you hope (and maybe even know?) that a happy ending is in store for them. I loved watching Charlotte’s evolution as a character. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles could have made Charlotte be gauche and naive; but she’s one of those characters who can easily stand back from her surroundings and just observe. She doesn’t allow herself to get caught up in the trappings of her life, even though many young women in her position would be. In this way, get to see the Morlands from the outside looking in, which was a fun treat, since they’re such an eccentric, eclectic bunch.
The Hidden Shore is kind of an in-between book; there are no major historical events going on, although the Crimean War is just on the horizon (it’s funny that Cavendish, whose health his parents worry about wants to go into the cavalry, and everyone keeps saying that no fighting will ever take place that he’ll have to participate in).