The Morland Dynasty: The Tangled Thread

February 26, 2010 at 6:16 am (Historical fiction) (, , , )

The Tangled Thread by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Morland Dynasty: The Tangled Thread by Cyntha Harrod-Eagles
originally published 1987
Warner Books, 2000
474 pages
Genre: family saga, historical fiction, romance

Synopsis & Review: (jacket copy)

1788: the bloody revolution in France causes upheaval in the Morland family.

Henri-Marie FitzJames Stuart, bastard offshoot of the Morland family, strives to protect his daughter Heloise, his mistress, Marie-France, and their son, Morland. To this end, he binds Heloise to a loveless marriage with a Revolutionary, and allies himself with the great Danton. But in the bloodbath of the guillotine and the fall of Danton, Henri-Marie loses his head and Heloise flees to England.

She is welcomed with open arms by the family, and in Yorkshire Jemima proudly witnesses three marriages amongst her turbulent brood. At last there may be an heir to Morland Place, but the seeds of disaster have already been sown.

Holy crap, I hadn’t read the jacket copy for this volume (I rarely bother anymore with this series), and so did NOT realize there was a major spoiler right there. I mean, I kept thinking Henri-Marie might escape the Terror and see England at last. But no. Oh well, for me, the perennial peeker and spoiler extraordinaire, not knowing that sustained some of the suspense in this very entertaining continuation of the Morland Dynasty. HOWEVER! The jacket copy is seriously lacking, covering only one of The Tangled Thread’s storylines. After all, it concerns Jemima still, one of those Morland matriarchs in the vein of Annunciata (though considerably less flashy). Her beloved husband Allen finally kicks the bucket, and Jemima is terribly concerned about her children: eldest son Edward is decidedly gay and remains unmarried, second son William is definitely married to the sea, and third son James is an unequivocal rake, tearing from one affair to the next, all while nursing a tendre for a married woman. (Youngest son Henry is too young to be of much concern yet; look for him in later installments.) Her elder daughter Mary is also troublesome, living with Flora (Countess of Chelmsford), traveling about England with Society as part of her establishment, and never considering any proposal of marriage. BUT! It gets better! Youngest daughter Lucy is one of the Morland tomboys, studying medicine under a former sailor and local horse doctor, Morgan Proom. Her interest in medicine and fixing broken bodies eventually leads Lucy to RUN AWAY TO SEA AS A SHIP’S DOCTOR ON A ROYAL WARSHIP. HOW RAD IS THAT? Read the rest of this entry »


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Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette

June 28, 2009 at 3:27 am (Historical fiction) (, , , , )

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
Harper Perennial, 1st printing, 2007
542 pages
historical fiction

Synopsis & Review: 7 May 1770, and on a small island in the middle of the Rhine, the Archduchess Maria Antonia became Marie Antoinette, Dauphine de France. Abundance follows Marie Antoinette from that tiny island to Versailles, recording her inner dialog as she adapts to the customs of her new country, doing her best to convince the French that Austria has sent them an “angel.” She struggles for the approbation of the King and his court, and that of the Dauphin, and that of the people. After seven long years of balls, gowns, gambling, and diamonds, Marie Antoinette and Louis finally consummate their marriage and begin a family. However, the fiscal collapse of the state, predicted at the start of the century, is nearly complete by the time Louis and Marie assume the throne, and it is they who shall reap the whirlwind. click here to see how I liked Abundance

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