Monday, May 10, 2010
The Founding book one in the Morland Dynasty series byCynthia Harrod-Eagles review
Book One In the Morland Dynasty Series
The Founding begins in 1434
Set During the Wars Of the Roses
The Reign of Richard III
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.
Power, wealth, prestige, were the foundations of character in the mid to late fifteenth century, and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has captured each and every aspect of that type of life in the first novel of the Morland Dynasty series, The Founding. I am in awe of this book, for many reasons, the first being that this is the first book from the era of the War of the Roses that focuses not only on the changing of the Monarchy but on everyday life of county gentlemen. Often the stories set with this era or those around it focus only on court life, so this was a nice change from the previous books that I have read. Secondly, it portrayed the feelings and emotions that many women faced in those days with arranged marriages, you simply did not marry for love you married to heighten your status as well as your families status, and often times the women were in love with someone else as we in the case of Eleanor being deeply in love with Richard, the Duke of York. Thirdly, the author has shown readers the difference courtly life and country life, although the Morland’s were gentlemen, they maintained their wealth from sheep farming as much of the country gentry did in those days. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has also strived to show the difference in dialect, using the Yorkish tongue in a manner that enhances the believability of the story. I also found that the character growth added depth to this story, so we see how their circumstances has impacted who they become.
The Founding, is a must read for all fans of British History. Although the story has definite ages gaps that span a broad period of time, I never felt as though any important details were left out. Also one needs to remember when reading the Morland Dynasty that this series spans from the Middle Ages to the Second World War, and captures it through the eyes of one family line
About the author
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd’s Bush in London. She was educated at Burlington School, a girls' charity school founded in 1699, and at the University of Edinburgh and University College London, where she studied English, history and philosophy.
She wrote her first novel while at university and in 1972 won the Young Writers' Award with THE WAITING GAME.
Afterwards she had a variety of jobs in the commercial world, beginning as sales manager for the Coca Cola Company in Edinburgh, and ending up as pensions officer for the BBC in London, while writing during the evenings and weekends.
The birth of the MORLAND DYNASTY series enabled her to become a full-time writer in 1979. The series was originally intended to comprise twelve volumes, but it has proved so popular that it has now been extended to thirty-four.
In 1993 she won the RNA Novel of the Year Award with EMILY, the third volume of her Kirov Saga, a trilogy set in nineteenth century Russia, and she also writes the internationally acclaimed BILL SLIDER MYSTERIES.
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles still lives in London, has a husband and three children, and apart from writing her passions are music (she plays in several amateur orchestras) horses, wine, architecture and the English countryside.
Don't Forget to look for my review of "THE DARK ROSE", the second in the Morland Dynasty series
My thanks to Sourcebooks for providing this ARC.