The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
|The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A beautiful road trip-come-fable-come-quest novel, in Rosoff's trademark understated but vivid and romantic style. The journeys are physical and emotional, and this book will appeal to a wide range of readers.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: September 2009|
Pell Ridley runs away from home on the morning she's supposed to get married. She just can't face it. Birdie is a good man, a good friend even, but Pell doesn't want a husband. She doesn't want to end up like her mother - worn and shapeless with a leaking bladder, great knotted blue veins, and breasts flat as old wineskins. And who can blame her? So she saddles up her white pony Jack and, at the last minute, takes her foster brother Bean along for the journey.
But Pell lives in rural Victorian England, not the post-feminist, globalised twenty-first century. So her travels are fraught with danger - women aren't supposed to be on the road and alone. And Bean is a handicap. The child is mute and tiny and helpless. He won't be able to help her find work or gain respectability. In fact, Bean's presence runs absolutely against everything Pell is trying to achieve in this odyssey. But she can't abandon him and he brings the comfort of the familiar with him.
It's such a lovely book, The Bride's Farewell. Rosoff's voice is unmistakable, even though this is her first historical novel. It's pared down, but thick with atmosphere and image. It's understated, but the narrative is truly powerful. The road trip forms the main thrust of the story - Pell and Bean and Jack become separated, and the path to finding one another is long and twisted. But the journeys are also emotional and Pell's story is a picaresque. As she comes of age, she learns that love and freedom are inextricably linked. Sometimes, when you love something, you have to let it go free. And the best kind of love to receive is that which comes with no strings attached.
Published by Puffin for teens in the UK, The Bride's Farewell is sold as an adult book in the US, but truly it will suit any age of reader. It has traces of Bronte-esque naturism about it. Romantic girls and women will love it, but its humanity and intelligence lifts it into a book with appeal for just about any reader who picks it up.
My thanks to the nice people at Puffin for sending the book.
They might also enjoy Wheels of War by Sally Prue which has the same fable-like quality and is equally understated. A more demanding read but equally fulfilling one is the unforgettable Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I can also see that the slightly mysterious The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett would also appeal.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff at Amazon.com.
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff is in the Carnegie Medal 2011.
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