Sunday, May 3, 2009

Review: The Foreign Field by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

1917 was another hard year for England. The third year in a brutal war that seemed to have no end. The Americans had finally joined in but it would be at least a year before they had trained troops in the field. For the soldiers, the misery and discomfort of trench warfare became a way of life. Bertie Parks, still leading his company in their third assault of Ypres, sums it up:

"Now happiness is Cooper bringing me a mug of tea, or a spoonful of chutney to make the bully beef more interesting, or a copy of the Magnet I've not read before. When every day brings fresh horror, you get along by such tiny things. Its pitiful for grown men to live like that. And the worst thing is that we've grown used to it, we accept it. You can't fight it, when it's all there is."

The homefront was desperate to help, even more so when the new German Gotha bombers began their brutal raids on London and the English countryside. Recently widowed Jessie Morland made herself useful by training as a nurse and jumped at the chance of a transfer to a hospital in France where she can make a greater difference.

Jessie's mother, Henrietta, keeps Morland Place running smoothly for her brother, Teddy, the current master of the estate. Despite having lost a beloved son, Frank, and son in law, Ned, in the fighting of 1916. There is still much to do, growing children to be cared for and an army camp in the Morland field livening up things for everyone.

It is very hard to properly review a book in this series (The Morland Dynasty) because they are so much a part of the whole. But I am going to bang the drum a little (again) here for one of my favorite authors. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is a fantastic writer who brings history to life as she weaves it into the story of one family from its beginnings in 1434 (The Founding ) down through the years. This is book #31 and she is planning to continue the series through the end of World War II.

I know it is hard to obtain a few books in a series, let alone a vast amount like the thirty one volumes so far in this one. But I don't think you can really get the most from the story unless you read them in order. Someone picking up just one, somewhere in the middle, would be understandably lost and would probably not enjoy the book like they might if they read it in context. Let me just say that I ADORE this series and, if you are a historical fiction fan, you can't go wrong with them. The character development is exquisite and the writing is excellent, too. I have read some of the WWI scenes with tears streaming down my face. They just get better as they go along. Kudos to Ms. Harrod-Eagles for tackling such an ambitious project. If you have ever visited, or even looked at, a big old manor house and thought, "If that building could tell what it has seen...", this is the series for you.

For an entire list of the series, and a synopsis of each book, click on the Morland Dynasty link above.

The Foreign Field is published by Sphere. ISBN 978-1-84744-093-8

7 comments:

Cathy said...

Carey, you're definitely preaching to the choir when it comes to me. I've loved this series since I first saw it appear in a local bookstore in the 80s!

Beth F said...

I'm not quite sure I've manage to not read this! I'll have to but the series on my list.

Teddy Rose said...

I have the first book on my TBR but I must admit, I'm afraid to read it! What if I get hooked? There are so many books on my TBR. I am 45 year's old and as it is there is no way possible to get through them all before I leave this world. Not to mention that I keep adding books daily.

The Tome Traveller said...

Your post has me laughing, Teddy. I'm 41 and I always tell my husband that I won't be leaving this world until I've read all of my books. If I don't add a single one from today on (ha!) I'd have to live to be 100.

Hope my eyes don't go...

Elizabeth said...

I WANT to read this series. It's on my list of series I need to read soon - we'll see how soon I get to it!

Zibilee said...

I love historical fiction and think this series would be right up my alley! I need a new author to love and relish, so thanks for this!

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

I'm going to start up collecting these - I've heard so many great things! Thanks for the great review.

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.