by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Eleanor Courteney is none too pleased when she hears that she is to be married to a local sheep farmer’s son. Given that Eleanor is an orphan with no dowry to speak of this match is actually better than a girl in her situation could’ve hoped for, but the young and feisty future matriarch of the Morland dynasty doesn’t see it that way. She is still secretly pining away for Edward, Duke of York with whom she fancies herself in love.
Robert Morland and Eleanor are as different as night and day. Meek and somewhat spineless, at least where his father is concerned, Robert can only stare in awe at his future wife so full of confidence and spunk. While Robert is immediately smitten with Eleanor, she is not impressed with this seeming wimp of a husband and horrified at her new surroundings of the Morland home. Ever pragmatic, Eleanor soon resigns herself to her new life and sets out to make this new home her own, despite the obstacles set in her way by her father in law, Edward, who has less manners than the sheep he raises.
Through the years and as they work together to build their dynasty, expand their family business and produce an abundance of children, Robert and Eleanor’s relationship deepens into one of mutual love and respect.
As for the historical setting, The Founding takes place during the time of the War of the Roses and the reign of Richard III into the usurpation of the crown by Henry Tudor. Eleanor’s previous connection with royalty and her status as a wealthy cloth merchant provides us with a glimpse into the politics of the day, via the key people themselves. Richard Platagenet, Duke of York and his wife Cecily, as well as, Richard III and Queen Anne make appearances and even life as a Yorkist soldier is experienced as we watch the Morland sons and grandsons fight for the cause.
Now, I know other reviewers have stated that they disliked Eleanor immensely and while I can most definitely see their reasons, I found myself liking her a lot. I don’t know if it’s maybe because she is so different from myself?! I have a tendency to be ruled by emotions and I’ve always admired people that are more in control of theirs. Yes, she does come off as a snob in the beginning of the novel, but she was raised by a noble family all her life and knows nothing else, so of course she’s going to be rankled by the thought of marrying someone that’s not in their circle.
Overall, I found The Founding to be an entertaining and engrossing read that contains two intriguing elements…family drama and history. My only issue was the sheer volume of kids and grandkids and great-grandkids can get confusing and overwhelming at times, but you eventually figure it out for me it didn’t take anything away from the story. I highly recommend The Founding and can’t wait to begin the 2nd book in the Morland Dynasty series, The Dark Rose.