Saturday, February 5, 2011

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...

Anglers Rest 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!


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