The penultimate volume in Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s Morland Dynasty series covers the years immediately after World War I. The Morlands, now reunited with spouses, children, and friends who served in the war and grieving the ones who didn’t return, attempt to return to normal life and put the horrors of the past few years behind them. For some, that means endless dancing, hence the title. The idealism that led Emma overseas with the FANYs is replaced with wild nights out with London’s Bright Young People. Violet develops a close connection with the royal family, all with her husband’s consent. Polly, grieving the loss of a secret love, becomes the center of York’s social scene but soon realizes that home no longer has anything to offer her.
Some of the Morlands find that the end of the war only brings about a new set of troubles. The faltering economy makes it difficult for Jack to support his family. The seemingly happy ending for Father Palgrave is lost as his shell shock returns and leaves him unable to cope with the work and family life that saved him before.
As in past volumes, Harrod-Eagles paints on a large canvas, giving readers an idea of what life must have been like for people from many different walks of society and with a variety of worldviews. That more than anything is what has kept me interested in the series. You get to see so many different aspects of history and to understand how they fit together. For instance, the rise of plastic surgery came about out of a desire to help men who were left disfigured from injuries in the war. Elective surgeries for the wealthy provided the financial support surgeons needed to take care of the soldiers who desperately needed their help but couldn’t afford it. I’ve learned all kinds of tidbits like that from reading this series. It’s like a survey course in English history.
However, I do have a bone to pick about this book. At the end of the previous book, The Fallen Kings, revealed a major plot point involving one of the principal characters in the book. It was a stunning revelation and one that I was eager to see explored more thoroughly. It wasn’t even mentioned in this book. This is distressing not just because I wanted more of that story but also because that development had caused me to forgive Harrod-Eagles completely for her bad habit of getting rid of inconvenient characters in order to further a romance. But then she doesn’t do anything with this monumental piece of news. With only one volume left in the series, I think I can call that thread abandoned. Too bad.