The Winding Road (Morland Dynasty #34)

And so we come to the end. For three years, I’ve been reading a volume in the Morland Dynasty series almost every month, and now I finish the series with the newly released final volume, The Winding Road. This book follows the fate of the Morland family through the latter half of the 1920s—the Jazz Age. There are parties galore and riches to be won and, eventually, lost. There are romances that begin with promise and become more complicated. There are reunions happy and sad, technological advances and lost traditions. In short, it’s a typical Morland Dynasty book and a suitable end to the series with enough material left for Cynthia Harrod-Eagles to continue the series should the opportunity arise.

As a typical Morland book, The Winding Road contains a lot of what I enjoy about this series and a few of the things that annoy me. There are lots of wonderful period details, as always, and Harrod-Eagles skillfully weaves together the stories of characters from different walks of life. We follow the New York Morlands, one of whom becomes closely connected with Herbert Hoover and dreams of being in the White House someday. In London, one of the most well-connected branches of the family suffers personal and financial setbacks that change the family’s status completely. An in-law to the family joins the publishing world as a newspaper copy writer with dreams of writing a detective novel. The advances in radio, film, television, and aviation all touch the more enterprising members of the family. For me, one of the more interesting sections dealt with the 1926 general strike, an event I had never heard of.

As for what I didn’t like, there was yet another convenient death of a spouse and romantic obstacle, although this one does not clear the way for the great destined romance of the remaining spouse’s dreams, so it didn’t aggravate me as much as the dual convenient deaths that helped Bertie and Jessie to get together. As much as I like seeing characters in this series find their great loves, I’d like it better if they didn’t step over other people’s bodies to get there quite so often. I also wouldn’t argue with keeping a few more couples apart, as that happens often enough in life.

Now that I’m done, I know I’ll miss reading about the Morlands’ exploits. As I’ve said in many a review, these are fun, reliably entertaining reads that provide a window into history as it was experienced by the people who lived it, both near the seats of power and at a distance. I can’t help but think this series, with its long-time loyal fans, might be a good candidate for an ebook series, perhaps with a print-on-demand option. I’d love to see how the family weathers the Great Depression and World War II.

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14 Responses to The Winding Road (Morland Dynasty #34)

  1. Danielle says:

    So that is really it? I was wondering if there might still be more, but maybe this is the last book in CHE’s contract? Sourcebooks is publishing the books over here, but maybe they are simply being re-published for a US audience rather than offering her a contract to write more? After I managed to finally finish The Long Shadow I set out to dive right into the next but Anunciata was still annoying me. Maybe I should try and plow through it before I need to go back to work. I don’t think I have ever wanted to see the end of a character as much as her. I’m glad you have enjoyed the series, though–it bodes well as I keep reading. Will you look for another sweeping epic drama to take it’s place? I’m sort of glad I am moving slowly with the books seeing as there might be no more. At least it sounds as though things weren’t tied up too tidily if she does end up writing more.

    • Teresa says:

      My understanding is that her contract only went up to book 34, and her publisher is not renewing it, which is too bad. I had high hopes that the Sourcebooks reissues would spark some interest, but I think those have stalled. (I talked to someone from Sourcebooks about the series at BEA, and she thought there was some sort of copyright dispute, but she wasn’t sure what the status was.)

      The series really does pick up after Anunciata leaves the scene around book 8 or so. I loved the French Revolution books and the Victorian ones in particular.

      I’ll probably work through the Patrick O’Brian books next, but I doubt I’ll keep to the book-a-month pace because those books are a little more demanding than these if the first one is any indictation. I’m also wanting to read all of Margery Allingham’s Campion books, so I may move back and forth between the two.

      • mumble says:

        What’s most exercising me is wondering how Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is filling her days now. Is her husband going to get thirty years’ worth of Sunday roast luncheons?

      • Jenny says:

        Now, now. Teresa’s not used to your nonsense.

      • mumble says:

        <sniffle&rt; Sorry, Teresa: I had a stream-of-consciousness moment, like when that chap leaped out of the window onto the railings in Mrs. Dalloway.

  2. Wow Teresa, I really admire your stamina in getting through all 34 books at such a steady pace. I really want to begin them but find the prospect incredibly daunting as I’m not well known for my ability to follow through on my determinations. What will your next great reading endeavor be? :-)

    • Teresa says:

      It really hasn’t required that much stamina because the books are such easy, addictive reads. Once I had most of the books on hand, I could have plowed through the whole series at once if I’d let myself. At one every month or so, they were actually great cures for reading slumps.

  3. Jenny says:

    I can’t wait for you to read more of the O’Brian books! Personally, I’ve read those like eating peanuts, far more than one a month. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. :)

    • Teresa says:

      I expect to read the next one in February or March!

    • mumble says:

      What Proper Jenny said.

      When she tried to get me onto Aubrey/Maturin, I sniffed and said, “It’s okay; I’ve read Hornblower, TYVM” and she stiffened and got that glint in her eye — you know that glint? — and so I read them, and It Changed My Life, and then I read them again, and It Changed My Life some more. The bit about village reputations alone is worth the entrance fee.

      Aubrey/Maturin may just have replaced the Flashman series as my re-read therapy when things are going badly.

      For anyone who doesn’t have Proper Jenny’s hand firmly on their tiller, it’s important to read them in order: they are a roman fleuve, a single narrative spanning twenty volumes.

      It is, however, perfectly in order to have the sound-track of _Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World_ playing at all times. Ah, Boccherini!

  4. mumble says:

    The 1926 General Strike was really a big deal, with establishment figures like John Betjeman and Cyril Connolly and Evelyn Waugh and Cecil Beaton deciding which side would be more fun to support. John Betjeman, for example, had always wanted to drive a train, so that affected his dispassionate response.

    Anyone who wishes to consider parallels between this strike and the 1970s Winter of Discontent that eventually swept Margaret Thatcher to power, and on friendly terms with Ronald Reagan, is welcome to do so, but may find a well-trodden path already there.

  5. Kitty says:

    Are you going to be reviewing the new book do you think? I’ve enjoyed your reviews of the others and I’d like to hear what you think of the last one.

    • Teresa says:

      I didn’t know there was a new book out! That’s wonderful news, so thank you! I will certainly read it at some point, but I’ll probably wait until it’s available in the U.S. in something other than hardcover, unless my library happens to get it.

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