Reviews

Wideacre by Phillippa Gregory

Harper Collins

Mark Haddon

The eighteenth-century woman is a neglected creature but, in the figure of her heroine, Phillippa Gregory has defined a certain kind of wilderness...  This is a novel written from instinct, not out of calculation, and it shows.

Peter Ackroyd, The Times

'

 

A few months ago, back in 2007, I read a book (also reviewed on Revado) called 'The Favoured Child'. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was in fact the second book in a trilogy written by Phillippa Gregory - the 'Wideacre' trilogy. Perhaps not so unexpectedly, 'Wideacre' is the first of the three.

Having read the book which follows on from 'Wideacre', there were some parts of the plot which I expected. However, this in no way made the plot dull and, in all honesty, I never quite knew what was going to happen when I turned the page or started the next chapter. In fact, there were many wonderful points during the story where the history behind something in 'The Favoured Child' would suddenly become clear to me, bringing more depth to both stories.

The strangest thing about 'Wideacre' was the feelings I had towards the main character Beatrice throughout the book. She is such a driven character, with such a passion for life and the land which is her home. At the start of the book I felt a real empathy for her; living in a time when women had no rights, she really fought for what she wanted, what she believed in. Perhaps the best quality was her unity with 'her' people - the folk of Acre village. However, as the book progresses, her passion almost seems to become an obsession and it is saddening how the power takes hold of her. My empathy for Beatrice rapidly begins to turn to dislike, but I always feel a certain pity towards her. By the end of the book I really felt the regret inside of her. What had started out as good intentions, a bid to secure her future and that of Wideacre, slowly became the destruction of everything and everyone she knew and loved.

Of course Beatrice isn't the only character in the novel and by reading 'Wideacre' I met the young Celia and John who re-appear in 'The Favoured Child'. Learning what they endured during their years with Beatrice, how they changed as people, really brought depth to their characters and behaviours in the second book. In contrast, Beatrice's brother Harry is very unlike the person I imagined when he is mentioned in 'The Favoured Child'. Initially I found him fairly amusing but the more I read, the more he grated on me - the weakness of his character compared to Beatrice was infuriating. Finally there is Ralph - such a focal character in 'The Favoured Child'. His role in 'Wideacre' is also so critical and learning about where he starts out really helps to understand the person he is in the next part of the trilogy.

This book is shocking and exciting. It is moral and yet obscene. This book is superb!

 

'

Reviewed on 01/02/2008 by Angela

 

Reviewed item details

ISBN: 0006514618

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wideacre-Trilogy-1-Philippa-Gregory/dp/0006514618/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1201210190&sr=8-1

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