Monday, January 26, 2009

The Dark Rose - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The marriage of Eleanor Courteney and Robert Morland heralded the founding of the great Morland dynasty. Now Paul, their great grandson is caught up in the conflict of kings and sees, while his niece Nanette, as maid-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, becomes caught up in intrigue at court.

The Dark Rose starts as the story of Eleanor Courtenay Morland´s great grandson Paul. Although I did like The Founding, the first book in the Morland Saga, I wasn’t overly impressed with Eleanor. She seemed a cold woman, determined to succeed in her goals and ready to sacrifice family to achieve them.

I was a bit worried because Paul Morland doesn’t seem overly sympathetic in the beginning either. However I think she managed to convey his complex personality and how most of his actions were rooted on fears and insecurities. Those are feelings that he manages to conquer with age and he becomes a much more interesting person.
One mustn’t think that he is the main character of this story though. As in the first book the author manages to create a strong female character and it’s through her eyes that we witness the main events of that period. Nanette Morland will, as a child, be raised with Katherine Parr and as a young adult be the companion of Anne Boleyn following her from her time as a Lady in Waiting to her final days as queen.

The private story of the Morland family with the jealousies between brothers and half brothers, the alliances sealed with marriages and their worries with religion, social reform, and the political events and how they affect their business mingles beautifully with the bigger picture that is Henry VIII’s court with its political intrigues and religious changes.

I quite like this view of history from a minor, fictional character point of view. I was a bit worried regarding her portrayal of Anne Boleyn since I’ve read a few books about her lately and some authors seem to go a bit overboard in her descriptions but in the end I think it was a well balanced portrayal with a few minor details I would prefer not to have had included.

I also like the fact that she has strong women as characters and from what I’ve read online there are more to come in future books of the series.

Grade: 4/5


  1. Great review! Taking on this series seems a bit daunting, but it's starting to sound worth it! I am also a fan of stories told by a minor character.

  2. I'm looking forward to know your opinion if you decide to read the series. I already have book 3 in the TBR pile and I can't wait to start it.