The Founding

The Founding (The Morland Dynasty, #1)The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stars is perhaps generous, but I like family sagas and I like historical fiction where history is actually the focus. This is book 1 of a now 34 book series intended to cover British history from the middle ages through WW2 through the eyes of a fictional family. The author says on her website (www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com) “I wanted to include…not just the kings, battles and Parliaments, but how people lived, what they wore and ate, how they gave birth and died, how they built their houses and related to their servants, how they traveled, what they believed in.” Although the fictional setting of the Morland family is near York in England, the original Morland home in this book (Micklelith House) was based on Tretower Court in Wales. If I ever get back to Wales, this will be on my itinerary: http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/tre…

And, although there is not really a plot, and the characters are mostly pretty flat and one-dimensional, I immediately wanted to reread the book after finishing it. I don’t know if that’s because I wanted to continue to immerse myself in the time period details, or because of some vague sense of having missed something that would make the story more complete. I do wish the publisher had included the royal family genealogy tables along with the Morland family tree provided, but I suppose that can be found readily enough. The political background of The Founding includes the reign of Edward IV and Richard III, and yes, the famous Princes in the Tower. The main character, Eleanor (nee Courteney) is strong-willed and ambitious. She will put the family fortunes ahead of every other consideration, even at the cost of the lives and happiness of her own children. She is arrogant and selfish, but yet she does elicit some sympathy and even admiration. Oh! and of course I liked that her personal device was a white hare.

I would like to have seen a lot more development of the characters, maybe over three books instead of one. The harrowing story of Eleanor’s daughter, Isabella, could have been a book in itself. Her strange son, Richard, and his wanderings could have been another fleshed out story. As it is, the book covers more than 50 years during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses. I will probably pick up the next book at some point to see how this fiercely Yorkist family survives the Tudors.

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