Monday, 25 August 2014

Reading the Moreland Chronicles: "The Founding", pt 1

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' "Moreland Chronicles" is an unfinished multi-volume family saga intertwined with British history from the 1430s to the 20th Century.

I plan to post as I read through the Moreland Chronicles with observations and comments.  I can't guarantee to read the books continuously, and I will need to get some of the in from other libraries, but each week while I'm reading a Moreland book, I will post. (Or at least attempt to do so.)

Book 1 - The Founding

The Moreland Chronicles begin in the reign of Henry VI.  Eleanor Courtney is the ward of Edmund Beaufort, uncle to the King, from the Swynford line.  She is married to a farmer, Robert Moreland, son of Edward Morland, whose house stands just beyond the gates of York.  But Eleanor, married late by the standards of her day, has already given her heart to Richard, the 3rd Duke of York (father of the future Edward IV of England.)

Where I am now: page 168 - Eleanor has been married to Robert Moreland for enough years that her eldest daughter is fifteen and herself married into Eleanor's Courteney relations.  Robert has risen, in great part through the ideas and influence of Eleanor, to be a great merchant of the north of England.  The family's  marital allegiance to Edmund Beaufort and Eleanor's emotional attachment to the Duke of York are beginning to cause tensions for the Morelands as the rifts that will eventually become the Wars of the Roses grow deeper.

Comments: I love, love, love the agency of Eleanor within a time period when we tend to view women as very passive.  Yet, Eleanor is far removed from court, and the episode when she goes out with the men to defend her husband's flocks reads as entirely possible, although not the sort of thing likely to make it into the formal histories.  I adore her tomboy daughter Isabella, and look so much forward to seeing what happens to Isabella through the years, moreso than Helen (although that's totally authorial bias.  You're drawn away from Helen at this point.)

I'm really enjoying this life of people removed from the royals of the time - as much as I love Plaidy and Gregory, this is a gorgeous telling of the story from that one level removed.

Goodreads tells me I'm 31% through the book so far.  I'm looking forward to the upcoming 69%.

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