The Foundingtakes readers through Eleanor's entire life, which is very long for this era, and her encounters with important historical figures of the age, including Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and his two sons Edward IV and Richard III of England. In her personal life Eleanor gives birth to more than ten children, encourages the expansion of the Morland wool business, and brings about the building of a new home which will become the great Morland Hall. Robert and Eleanor's sons go out into the world as soldiers during the Wars of the Roses, courtiers in London, and apprentices and scholars at grand homes. In addition to the "womanly arts" their daughters are educated in reading, writing, and mathematics, along with languages.
The Foundingis the first in a more than 30-book series following the Morland family through England's triumphs and tragedies as their own fortunes rise and are imperiled. I greatly enjoy reading about historical events from the perspective of a person who was there, but not a key player in events. It's especially interesting to me to read about the daily life of a large manor, the food eaten, clothes worn, and amusements of those who live there. In The Founding, and the other Morland books I've read, the details of how things were done are fascinating, such as placing guests for a meal at court, and where the salt is set on the table, bringing about the description of a person as "below the salt".
In addition to enjoying Eleanor's family story and the historical information, I was very excited that the book has a family tree at the front, to which I often referred while reading. On Cynthia Harrod-Eagles website she has all of the family trees for each novel, as well as a hand-drawn map of the Morlands' fictional world, which I printed out to look at while reading. Her website is fascinating with information on her research and the factual places she melded to create the Morland home and environs.
Official FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than an advance copy from Sourcebooks.