With its brooding and atmospheric nineteenth century setting, Meg Rosoff's The Bride's Farewell is a romantic novel that continues to haunt and captivate the reader long after reading. On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees - determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. And then she meets a hunter - infuriating, mysterious and cold.
His fate appears to be strangely entwined with her own.
Will he help her to find what she seeks? Or must she continue to wander the earth, searching for love and lost things ...Bestselling author Meg Rosoff has received great critical acclaim since the publication of her first novel How I Live Now (winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize).
Her other novels, Just in Case (winner of the 2007 Carnegie Medal) and What I Was which was described by The Times as 'Samuel Beckett on ecstasy', are also available from Puffin.
Follow Meg on Twitter @megrosoff.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 03/06/2010
- Category: Historical
- ISBN: 9780141323404
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by brokenangelkisses
Meg Rosoff is not an author I am familiar with but a little research revealed that she has published several books for teens and is a well respected writer. This story has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, so I read it as part of my school’s shadowing programme.The premisePell Ridley knows what marriage is like. She’s seen her mother ‘squeeze out’ too many children and endure a loveless, often brutal marriage to an alcoholic, impoverished preacher. Refusing to accept this miserable existence as her destiny, Pell sneaks out of the house on the morning of her wedding day and flees, trying to convince herself that her betrothed would be equally happy to marry her more domestic-minded sister, Lou.Unfortunately, Pell quickly loses everything she left home with – her ‘adopted’ younger brother, Bean, her horse, Jack, and all her money. Devastated, she embarks upon a search for all of these, and the man she holds accountable for their loss. On her path, she meets a Mysterious Hunter who appears to be as independent as she is. Will he help her to recover the things she has lost? Or is she destined to wander from town to town, forever searching?I thought this sounded like a historical romance and as such I wasn’t interested in the plot itself. I definitely wouldn’t have read this if I wasn’t running the book group as nothing about this book particularly appealed to me. In fact, I thought it sounded like a wish-fulfilment story in which Pell secretly does want to get married, but only to the Right Man who will understand her need for independence and, um, not be an alcoholic wife-beater. The picture of the girl with beautiful blonde locks streaming out behind her on the front cover did nothing to allay my fears.The reality……is that this is a suitably adapted chicklit/ Mills and Book text for teen girls set in the early nineteenth century. Pell is an independent young girl who refuses to be broken by accusations that she is a harlot (most often made, bizarrely, after she has rejected a man’s advances) or the fact that she has no job. She takes charge of life and manages to rescue some of her siblings along the way. In a sense, I suppose she is a good role model for young girls. She will not accept a marriage that she feels will cast her in purely a supporting role. She knows that she deserves to be accepted as a man’s equal (although this is never explicitly stated) and she is perturbed by the fact that she can actually manage horses better than her fiancé. Although the novel is clearly set in an earlier era (the spectre of the workhouse and starvation loom over the story) Pell is a very modern young woman. Her confidence is attractive and her determination made her an admirable character. Her desire to be loved rather than used will surely resonate with readers.And yet…the mysterious hunter is a poor substitute for Mr Darcy as a love object and Pell’s ultimate ending seems too dependent upon him for someone so enamoured of her independence. Consistently demonstrating disinterest is not equivalent to being dashing. His support of Pell is physical rather than emotional and it could be argued that he takes advantage of her. He is twice her age and a rather shocking secret is revealed about his past that really isn’t adequately explained. In essence, as a romantic hero he doesn’t really suit. It is telling that Pell doesn’t even seem to know his name. He offers lust and security but it seems that Pell fits herself to his life rather than them becoming the kind of equals she presumably desired. I didn’t like this relationship and as this was central to the story I didn’t have particularly positive feelings about the book as a whole.In fact, the sub plots of the book irritated me immensely. I didn’t understand why the moody hunter had to have the secret he did and I couldn’t see what this added to the story, except to show that Pell was willing to accept a rather unconventional partner. I actually thought that her willingness to accept this made her more of a doormat than getting married would have done. Surely independence doesn’t mean being quite so accepting of other’s ‘flaws’?The other sub plot follows a gypsy woman, Estella, whose fate turns out to be entwined with Pell’s family. Fortunately, Pell never fully realises the terrible consequences of her flight from home, but this leaves the reader in the strange position of knowing more than the main character, even when the book closes. Part of me didn’t like this as I felt that the sub-plot only really served to intensify Pell’s misery – I didn’t feel that it added anything thematically, and in some ways it was the easy option. There are scenes I would have liked to have read that couldn’t occur because of this sub-plot.The dominant modes of the book are misery and, surprisingly, optimism. Pell’s resolute nature is inspiring and although I found the middle of the book rather heavy going – if it can go wrong, it does, usually tragically – there was a sense by the end that things had worked out the best they could in the circumstances. Although I found the ending annoying in some respects, particularly the way that the characters don’t ask any questions of each other – I did like the way that everything was ‘closed’ and there were no real question marks left for the reader. It is obvious how the story will develop.What is particularly interesting about this story is the sense of threat and danger that hangs over Pell’s journey. Her journey is less one of discovery (clearly, Pell already knows herself well enough to know that she can’t endure her ma’s existence) and more a journey towards danger. The threat that men can present to women is made very clear and Pell’s vulnerability is perhaps shocking to readers. There is a clear sense of the era the novel is set in and the disbelief other characters express when reacting to Pell’s choices might be rather shocking for readers. I think this book would certainly help young girls appreciate how life has changed over the last couple of centuries for women.Something I did enjoy about the story was the author’s use of irony. At one stage the narrator notes that: “Edward might have been a scholar had he possessed the foresight to be born into a different family.” Touches like this did make me smile and made the reading experience more pleasant. In fact, I did think the writing style was a strength overall. It is simple but engaging. Chapters are very short and the plot is easy to follow. The story itself is short enough (183 pages) for keen readers to devour in one go.Final thoughtsI didn’t really enjoy reading this. I didn’t like the central relationship that developed and, although I admired Pell’s independence, I would have preferred her to remain truly dependent at the end. I felt that this was rather ‘girly’ and too narrowly focused on relationships to be of much interest to boys. I thought the writer convincingly evoked the setting (the workhouse owner was truly menacingly) and I thought the writing was easy to read. I can’t imagine this winning the Carnegie as I don’t believe it has sufficient depth thematically. I think young teenage girls may well enjoy this and that, on the whole, it would provide them with a positive role model.
Review by emleemay
So disappointed. I loved Rosoff's 'How I Live Now' and I had high expectations of this book... but no.<br/><br/>It was painfully boring, and thankfully short as well because I couldn't wait for it to be over. I think it was meant to be deep and moving but I felt no connection with the protagonist and all the endless talk about horses and farming nearly sent me to sleep.<br/><br/>I can't believe the difference between the gripping and rather disturbing 'How I Live Now' and this load of pointless waffle. It didn't work as an important message for growing up and womanhood, it didn't work as a romance, it just didn't work full stop.<br/><br/>After my give-or-take attitudes to 'Just In Case' and 'What I Was', I really thought the author might regain some of the magic of her first novel in this book; but I'm now starting to believe that Meg Rosoff exhausted her genius with her first release.<br/><br/>It's really quite disheartening.<br/><br/>