Skip to main content

Review: The Winter Journey, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Pages: 624

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:, 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.


legrhu said…
Sounds like a perfect read for a cold winter day on the East Coast! You have settled back into your reading and writing routine....eager to read many more in the future...
Julie Goucher said…
Like you I am trying to read the whole series. I am still collecting the early ones at the moment. I am sure it is a bit OCDish, but I prefer to have the first few of a series of books then I start reading. Nothing worse than getting to the end of one book and not being able to get onto the next one!
Katy said…
I'm also reading through this series--I just discovered it a few months ago, by picking up the most recent one at the library. It was so well-written that I immediately sought out the first one and have been hooked ever since. Some are better than others, according to the characters, but overall they are excellent. I just finished "The Emperor", and have to take a break for the Persephone Reading Weekend!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancée, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…