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30 March 2010

Book Review: The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Title: The Founding
Author: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Paperback: 560 pages
ISBN: 978-1402238154
Genre: Historical Fiction


From the Publisher

Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.

My Review:

The first in the Morland Dynasty Series, The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, is beautifully written with elaborate descriptions, and realistic characters making The Founding an intriguing novel to read, especially for those who are partial to historical fiction. The Founding takes place during the War of the Roses, which helps to explain the unusual match between Eleanor Courtney and Robert Morland. Unbeknownst to either Robert or Eleanor, living in different parts of England, their marriage was being arranged, which was not usual for this time period, to be true, however this most uneven match was a bit peculiar. Morland has a lot of land, sheep, and money, but no title or family save Robert, and Lord Edmund is in need of capital to fund the wars left over from Harry V's reign. Morland lacks family and wants his only son to become a gentleman. Lord Edmund needs the capital to continue to fund the wars. Robert and Eleanor are extreme polar opposites. Robert grew up as the only living son in a motherless house, being abused by his father and living in perpetual fear of him. Eleanor, an orphan, was raised as a ward of the Beauforts and taught in all manners of how to be a lady.
The marriage between Robert and Eleanor starts off poorly. He loves her dearly and at the same time fears her second only to his father. Eleanor is not at all pleased with her new life and is grateful she was able to bring three servants with her. They all live together in Micklelith House and in short order Eleanor is running the house and the operations of the farm with the help of the three servants who traveled with her. Jacques immediately took to task the kitchen and commanded respect from the Morland servants; Job took to the Yorkshire language quickly and became an invaluable translator for Eleanor while faithful Gaby provided Eleanor with unconditional love and support. As the War of the Roses wages on, Eleanor firmly takes the position of matriarch in the Morland family. Fortunately for the reader, the author provides a family tree in the beginning of the novel, since by the end of this first novel there are numerous characters. The Founding made for a delightful read and was a different look of this time period than other novels I have read. I do not want to give too much away in my review. I will say at times I admired Eleanor and at others I could barely tolerate her. In all fairness, I wavered in feelings for Robert as well and at times I pitied him and at others I wanted him to grow a spine. Regardless, together they form the beginning of what must be a fantastic dynasty, from wealthy land and sheep owners to clothing merchants, for I believe the author has now penned 32 additional novels in the Morland Dynasty Series. The Founding makes for a rather delightful read as well as an intriguing historical look into life during the middle years of the 1400s.

I received a complimentary copy of The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles from Sourcebooks. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I love historical fiction, this one sounds interesting. I'll be sure to check it out. Great review!

Katy said...

I have been thinking about picking this one up--thanks for the review! :)

Christina T said...

Great review! I enjoy historical fiction, especially set in Britain so I might like this-as long as I don't feel I have to read all 32 novels in the series!