Morland Dynasty: The Maiden

December 8, 2009 at 9:28 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The Maiden by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Morland Dynasty: The Maiden by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
originally published 1985
Warner Books, 2000
413 pages
Genre: Family saga, historical fiction

Synopsis & Review: 1720: political intrigue besets the kingdom as the Stuarts try to claim the throne occupied by the Hanoverians and the Morlands have to use all their wiles to keep their fortunes intact.

Jemmy Morland, sole heir to his father’s will, has no option but to marry the cold-hearted Lady Mary to secure Hanoverian protection and safeguard his inheritance. Then the rebellion of ’45 and the bloody massacre at Culloden thrust his daughter Jemima into the spotlight as the savior of the family.

Intelligent, single-minded, and a rare beauty, Jemima is a capable caretaker of the Morland heritage. Although Morland Place and its lands suffer from the excesses of her dissolute husband, Jemima’s quiet courage earns her an abiding love and loyalty. (jacket copy)

I am highly distraught. I’ve been requesting the Morland Dynasty from the Multnomah County Library over the past couple of months, and have really been enjoying them. They provide a nice, brainless respite from some of the other stuff I’ve been reading (not that they’re unintelligent, but they require little effort from me, and I can tear right through them). After finishing The Chevalier, I hopped online to request The Flood-Tide, which follows The Maiden, only to discover that the MCL doesn’t have it. Gasp! Horror! I cannot continue the series without reading the ninth book! Gah! I’m not sure what I’ll do, perhaps try to find a copy for a dollar somewhere. But it’s hard to justify spending even that for a book in the middle of a series I don’t own, when I’ve got wedding expenses and Christmas on my tail. Poop.I even put off reading The Maiden for a couple of days, tryig to prolong my enjoyment of the series, but I’m too impatient to delay gratification.

The Maiden is a bit of an odd one compared to the last few entries in the Morland Dynasty. It’s the last book featuring Annunciata Morland, and CHE gets a little heavy-handed when she makes Annunciata basically declare her heir, the next person to shepherd the Morland family through whatever troubles may crop up. Other than the South Sea Bubble in 1720 at the book’s opening and the battle of Culloden during the ’45 (the other major Jacobite rising; see The Chevalier), there aren’t many significant historical events for the Morlands to get involved with. Instead, this novel focuses more on the family’s problems, and the need for those to carry the plot weakens the book somewhat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morland Dynasty: The Chevalier

December 3, 2009 at 5:55 am (Historical fiction) (, , , , , , , )

The Chevalier by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Morland Dynasty: The Chevalier by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
originally published 1984
Warner Books, 2000
414 pages
Genre: Family saga, historical fiction

Synopsis & Review: 1689 – The Restoration enabled the Morland family to restore their own fortune, but now the Jacobite rebellion brings another threat to their security.

Annunciata Morland, fiercely loyal to the Stuart cause, follows her beloved king, James II, into exile. She leaves her gentle grandson, Matt, to oversee Morland Place in her absence. Without her wise presence, Matt finds himself in an arranged marriage to India Neville and at the mercy of a woman as heartless as she is beautiful. After a lonely and sheltered life he lurches between the exquisite pain of love and the torment of deep despair.

When James III-the Chevalier–returns to claim the Stuart throne, the Morlands are reunited in one country. Death and defeat threaten them, but their loves and loyalty prove stronger than kingly ambition. (jacket copy)

Sometimes I just get exhausted trying to summarize a plot that follows the vagaries of history. Don’t judge me.

Number seven of the Morland Dynasty opens just before the Glorious Revolution (which sucked), and traces the various Morlands through the Jacobite uprising of 1715 (aka, the ’15–to the cool kids). With the current popularity of the Tudors–and to a lesser degree, the Plantagenets–the Stuarts, the Hanoverians, and the Jacobites get short shrift from historical fiction. I’m not sure why, though, as the intricacies of Jacobite intrigue are innately romantic and thrilling. I wonder whether perhaps intolerance of Jacobitism may have something to do with the Catholic connexion (there is still some anti-Papist sentiment both here and in the UK), or whether the complexities of loyalty to a King’s person versus to a country are too touchy a subject currently. (Note the drastic fall in US Civil War romantic fiction for the second half of the twentieth century, following the Civil Rights Movement.) Read the rest of this entry »

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