Original date of publication: 1997
My edition: 2007 (Sphere)
Why I decided to read: I’m trying to read the whole Morland Dynasty series
How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, January 2010
#20: 1851-1855: Covers the Great Exhibition; Crimean War
In The Winter Journey, the story of the Morland family shifts focus for a bit. A distant cousin arrives from South Carolina in time for the Great Exhibition. Charlotte, happily married to Oliver Fleetwood, uses her wealth and influence to help build a hospital, in London just as cholera strikes. Her brother, Cavendish, is a cavalry officer called to the Crimea; and Oliver, an intelligence officer, goes there too, along with Charlotte.
The family takes a bit of a back seat to the historical events that are taking place. The Crimean War takes up a good chunk of the novel, especially the tragic Charge of the Light Brigade, which I’d obviously heard about but never really knew much of. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles gives her readers a good fictional account of what happened that day, as well as the other battles that occurred during that war. It’s the Morlands’ participation in the big (and small) events in history that makes this series so appealing, and this novel didn’t disappoint in that regard. As you might expect from a book in this series, lots of famous people make cameos; through Charlotte’s hospital work, predictably she meets Florence Nightingale. But I do enjoy seeing these real people from history walk across the stage at various points.
As I’ve said the family watch from the sidelines as history is taking place; but what I love about these characters is that Harrod-Eagles never foces a modern mindset upon them. They all behave with this same mores that you would expect from the period, so that Charlotte isn’t some modern feminist or something! In this way, the author makes her characters seem more real.