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welshbookworm

The Welsh Bookworm

The Welsh Bookworm is a librarian living and working in rural Minnesota. She is a past-president of the St. David’s Society of Minnesota, leads the Welsh folk-dance group Traed Y Ddraig, and teaches Welsh language classes. Her Welsh Bookworm column was featured occasionally in the newspaper Y Drych, now part of Ninnau. Laurel works for the Carver County Public Libraries in Waconia and Norwood Young America, loves reading, music, dance, languages, genealogy, gardening, and bird watching. Laurel reads historical fiction, mysteries, sci fi/fantasy, medieval and British history, Arthurian fiction, classics, and of course, anything connected to Wales. Follow my blog at http://welshbookworm.wordpress.com

Currently reading

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train
William Kuhn
The Boleyn Deceit
Laura Andersen
The Founding - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles 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 travelled, 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/tretower_court_garden

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.

Series info:
Morland dynasty series
01. The founding - read
02. The dark rose
03. The princeling
04. The oak apple
05. The black pearl
06. The long shadow
07. The chevalier
08. The maiden
09. The flood tide
10. The tangled thread
11. The emperor
12. The victory
13. The regency
14. The campaigners
15. The reckoning
16. The devil's horse
17. The poison tree
18. The abyss
19. The hidden shore
20. The winter journey
21. The outcast
22. The mirage
23. The cause
24. The homecoming
25. The question
26. The dream kingdom
27. The restless sea
28. The white road
29. The burning roses
30. The measure of days
31. The foreign field
32. The fallen kings
33. The dancing years
34. The winding road