Title: The Restless Sea
Author: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group, 2005
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, #27 Morland Dynasty series
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.
First Line: On the evening on which Mr. and Mrs. Edward Morland of Maystone Villa, Clifton, were to give the first dinner party of their married lives, Ned arrived home late.
For those of you who are not acquainted with this series of books, you may think that the number 27 above is a typo. It isn't. I savor these books slowly so I'll never run out. As a result there are actually 32 volumes in this series. (I own volumes 1 - 30.)
The Morland Dynasty series, as it's called, begins in England at the time of Richard III, and it is the author's hope that it will continue through to the end of World War II. She's been having publisher problems, so keep your fingers crossed.
In The Restless Sea it is 1912. Jessie and childhood friend Violet are getting used to married life. Jack is now working with Thomas Sopwith on aeroplane design, and he's still got terrible taste in women. Teddy Morland has provided all the soft furnishings for the launch of the Titanic, and as a result he's been given free passage on her maiden voyage.
For anyone with any memory of history at all, what happens to the Titanic is known. What is also known is that soon all these people will be immersed in World War I. One of the major reasons why I love this series is because Harrod-Eagles personalizes history. She gives us a family, she puts this family in the midst of events, and we see these events from an entirely new perspective. The sinking of the Titanic takes on new meaning when a reader "knows" someone on board the ship:
Those who had been saved had no choice but to listen to those who were doomed, with nothing to distract the mind from the knowledge that the crying was gradually fading away, as one by one they died, frozen to death, alone in the black water.
The Restless Sea is another strong entry in this long-running series, and World War I looming large in the shadows does create tension. Since some of the generations span more than one book, it would be a good idea to read them in order. Be brave. Like me, you'll always have something good waiting for you on your shelves.
The first three or four books were published in the United States back in the 1980s, and I fell in love with them. When I could no longer find any new additions to the series, I assumed that there were no more. It wasn't until the end of the 1990s that I learned that the series had never stopped and was still going strong. My then-fiance located all the books I was missing in the UK and either mailed them to me or delivered them in person. After some creative shelving, they all fit on one shelf in my library.
Harrod-Eagles makes history live by making it personal. Like all families, there are going to be characters that you can't stand and characters that you love. And like all families, the bad things don't always happen to the characters you don't like; there are even characters that don't interest you one way or the other. All the appearance of real life, eh?
Reading this series from the beginning is like becoming a member of the Morland family. Morland Place is outside of York, and the first several books in the series included floor plans that let us see how the house changed throughout the generations.
Now the books contain family trees to help us remember how all the characters are connected. One of the author's strengths is her skill in characterization-- proof being that I seldom, if ever, refer to the family tree in order to keep everyone straight. After 27 books, I'm evidently a Morland by adoption.
If you love large, sprawling, generational, historical fiction sagas, you can't go wrong with this series. You won't like some books as well as you do others because of the changing characters and time periods, but taken as a whole, this series is remarkable. And wonderful.
If you'd like to give this series a try, click on the link to the author's website at the top of this review. You'll find all the information you need under the Morland Dynasty tab.