Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Oak Apple - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

When civil war destroys the long years of peace in England, the clash between King and Parliament is echoed at Morland Place. Richard, the heir, brings home a Puritan bride, while his dashing brother Kit joins the Royalist cavalry under prince Rupert, leaving their father, Edmund, desperately trying to steer a middle course. As the war grinds on, bitterness replaces early fervour and divisions grow deeper, and through it all Edmund struggles grimly to protect his inheritance and keep Morland Place intact.

The Oak Apple starts a few years after the Princeling ends. The characters that ended the last book as children are now adults with children of their own. The master of Morland Place is Edmund Morland and the historical setting is the reign of Charles I and the fights between Parliament and King. A significant part of the book is devoted to the description of battles, although they are not usually my favourite reading subject Harrod-Eagles does a very good job with it and I was actually interested and horrified by what I was reading. There are no heroes or villains in this, just men who believe in different things and defending their ideas.

As in previous books the gap between generations widens due to different political sides. While Edmund is mostly worried with protecting his birthplace his son Richard marries a puritan and his second son and several cousins join the King's army. The political situation will take its toll on Edmund's marriage and the war effort will affect the whole family. I thought it interesting that there was the introduction of a puritan character but I think that sadly we only get to know the basics about Puritanism. I at least was curious to know more.

I liked it that, as in previous books, the author included a female character that stands out. Here it is Ruth Morland. In love with her cousin Kit she sees him marry another cousin - Hero - and ends up having to give Hero and their son shelter when the war reaches their doorsteps. She manages her brother's home and after his death manages to live alone and independent. Ruth eventually bears a daughter out of wedlock, Annunciata, and doesn't seem to worry about the scandal. Another thing I liked was that a branch of the family sets out to America. Since Edmund doesn't have enough land to divide for all his sons, Ambrose Morland and his wife Nell sail to Maryland where they hope to claim lands and build their lives.
I have mentioned Ruth as the strong character in this story but I have to say that Edmund's wife Mary Esther is the one that does everything to keep the family together no matter what. Despite the war there are still a household to organise, marriages to plan and funerals to arrange. And I really did enjoy reading about all of it, not everyone is nice or easy to understand but that's what life is made of...

Grade: 4.5/5

This is my O entry for The Alphabet in Historical Fiction Challenge


  1. When are you planning on reading the next book? I just picked it up from the library, but not sure when I will get to it.

  2. I have it already and I am looking forward to know what happens next but at the same time I think I should probably space them a bit...I might not resist grabbing it though ;-)


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...