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The Cause by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
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As the novel opens, Lady Venetia Fleetwood is engaged to be married; when she finds out that her future husband doesn’t support her ambitions to become a doctor, she breaks off the engagement. Her distant cousin George Morland and his social-climbing wife Alfreda had been invited to the wedding, but are bitterly disappointed when it is called off. In order to improve their social standing, George and Alfreda begin an ambitious project to “improve” and modernize Morland Place.

Although I enjoy this series in general, it’s been a while since I read the previous book in the series, so I had to go back to my notes and review them before I began reading The Cause. Still, I thought that this book was more of a filler for the series—the connection between the two branches of the family is too great. According to the family tree at the front of the book, though, Venetia and George are second cousins once removed. It would be nice if the series could focus just on one branch of the family at a time.

I enjoyed watching Venetia’s story play out further, and I also enjoyed watching how the medical profession became more open to women. But I lost interest in George and Alfreda; I think that both are stock characters seen frequently in the story of the Morland family. I realized as I read this installment in the series how accustomed to Morland Place I’ve become; as I read about the “improvements” to the family seat I kept thinking “no!” ( )
  Kasthu | Jul 23, 2012 |
The last few novels in the series have been wonderful, but this novel was somewhat weaker than the others. In general, I prefer the books that focus on one or two stories or that maintain a tight relationship between the various threads. This book is more scattered, and therefore less satisfying. I was also disappointed that she wrote herself out of a couple of pickles by inserting convenient deaths at just the right time. She’s done this before in other books, but it didn’t bother me much because she didn’t overuse the device. In this case, however, she did it twice in one book, and the timing in both cases seemed too perfect.

Although the plot here was not, in my opinion, as well-constructed as I would have hoped, there were plenty of elements that I enjoyed. Venetia’s medical career is always of interest, as was the story surrounding Morland Place.

So, on the whole, this isn’t a favorite Morland book, but it was pleasant enough reading, with an ending that has me looking forward to the next book.

See my complete review at Shelf Love. ( )
  teresakayep | Sep 20, 2010 |
Another interesting chapter in the Morland Dynasty. Enjoyed Venetia's struggle to become a doctor and the disruption to Morland Place. Already started the next book! ( )
  birdsam0307 | Nov 15, 2008 |
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BOOK ONE
Starting Out

Unlike are, unlike, O princely Heart!
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
One one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Sonnets from the Portuguese
Dedication
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May 1874

Venetia Fleetwood came into the green drawing-room of Southport House in Pall Mall in her usual energetic pace, a clutch of stiff white envelopes in her hand.
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Book description
The wedding of Lady Venetia Fleetwood, eldest daughter of the Duke of Southport, is the talk of London. Invitations are eagerly prized, not least by Venetia's cousin George Morland and his socialite wife Alfreda, preparing to journey down from Morland Place in Yorkshire for the glory of being seen at the most glamorous event of the Season.

But on the eve of the wedding a bombshell hits Southport House. Venetia's fiancé, Lord Hazelmere, discovers she means to continue in her attempt to qualify as a doctor. Horrified, he forbids it absolutely. Venetia, half afraid of her own determination, calls the wedding off, and from being the talk of the Season, it becomes the scandal of the year. When the Duke dies soon afterwards, Harry, the heir, blames Venetia for their father's death and cuts her off with a tiny allowance. Venetia is now free to pursue her goal, but, estranged from her friends and family, needs all her tenacity to fight on in the face of universal hostility.

For George and Alfreda the disappointment is acute. Alfreda's one desire is to dazzle society, and she consoles herself with elaborate building plans for Morland Place and ever more lavish entertainments. Both refuse to believe that extravagance is driving George ever closer to bankruptcy, to losing the one thing he values above all else - his land.

George's sister, Henrietta regrets the changes being made to her old home, when her new one offers only cold comfort. Her stern and ascetic husband, the rector Edgar Fortescue, has long since lost any love for her, and she finds herself increasingly drawn to the darkly handsome adventurer, Jerome Compton. Passion flowers between them; but Henrietta cannot break her sacred marriage vows, and, in anguish, determines never to see Jerome again...

At a time when the new ideas are challenging the very foundations of society, each person must find something to hold on to, a cause worth living - or dying - for. For some it is to keep the old against the onrushing tide; for others to march out and risk all to advance the new...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0751525383, Paperback)

In the Morland Dynasty series, the majestic sweep of English history is richly and movingly portrayed through the fictional lives of the Morland family. It is 1874, and Venetia is on the brink of marrying Lord Hazelmere when she discovers he does not plan to allow her to continue training as a doctor. She calls the wedding off, and from being the talk of the season becomes the scandal of the year. Estranged from family and friends, she needs all her determination to continue the fight. At Morland place George and Alfreda continue to spend on grandiose building schemes despite the threat of  bankruptcy, while Henrietta’s cold marriage to the ascetic Rector of Bishopthorpe brings her close to questioning her religion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The upcoming marriage of Venetia, eldest daughter of the Duke of Southport, is the talk of London society. But with just weeks to go, Venetia cries off - unable to accept that her husband will forbid her to study medicine. Meanwhile at Morland Place, George's new wife is whittling away his fortune.… (more)

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