Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Founding - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
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, besides, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York. Yet in time this apparently ill-matched union becomes both passionate and tender, the foundation of the Morland ‘dynasty’, and sustains them through bloody civil war which so often divides families, sets neighbour against neighbour, and brings tragedy close to home.
I've heard so many times people rave about these books that I finally couldn't resist and bought the first one.
It is a superbly well written story, full of historical detail but I felt the people lacked a bit of charisma. The main character is a strong woman, so strong in fact that she comes across as cold and unfeeling at times. In a way I felt you could tell this is the beginning of a great saga which is reinforced by the fact that the main characters themselves mention they are starting a dynasty.
It begins with Eleanor's marriage to Robert Morland, a man she considers beneath her, and follows them through the birth of their many children, a rise in their fortunes, moving to a new house and entertaining illustrious guests as the Duke of York. Everything Eleanor Morland does is with the goal of strengthening the power and the fortune of the family and there are times in which she doesn't hesitate to sacrifice her children. Her devotion to York leads the family to be involved in the politics of the day and to suffer during the Wars of the Roses and the downfall of Richard III.
I was a bit afraid in the beginning of starting a series that already has 30 titles but after reading this one I'm sure they will provide an interesting outlook on english history and I can't wait to start the next one.