Continuing my plan to read one book each month from Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s Morland Dynasty series, this month I read The Black Pearl, which opens shortly before Charles II is restored to the throne and closes with the 1666 Great Fire of London. So far, I’ve enjoyed the series immensely, not because they’re great literature, but because they’re just great fun. The first and fourth books are probably my favorites, but I’ve liked them all, and this book continues the trend.
The main character in the book is Annunciata Morland, the illegitimate daughter of Ruth. Much is made of Annunciata’s beauty and spirit, and she knows it. She’s probably the first of the Morland heroines that I took an outright dislike to, but as the story went on, she grew on me. I was never entirely won over, but I still came around to thinking she was at least fun to read about. Much of the book follows Annunciata’s time in the court of Charles II, where she falls in and out of love and learns that passion does not always equal lasting love.
For me, the more intriguing characters were those who stayed behind at Morland Place, and I would have liked more of them. Catherine was a particular favorite of mine. She makes some difficult decisions that the rest of her family doesn’t understand, and she accepts the consequences.
As I mentioned above, the book opens shortly before the Restoration of the Monarchy, and the previous book, The Oak Apple, closed right about the time the monarchy was defeated. I thought Harrod-Eagles missed a great opportunity by skipping Cromwell’s Protectorate. Because many of the Morlands are Catholic, this would have been a difficult period for them, and it would have been interesting to see how they coped during that time. We do learn a bit about it, but only by way of background. I understand that Harrod-Eagles can’t cover everything, but this period seems like one that could have been particularly fraught with peril, and I was sorry to see it passed over. Oh well, I’m sure there will be more drama to come, and I’m looking forward to getting more glimpses of British history through the eyes of the Morlands.