Part of the The Wideacre Trilogy series
This is the third volume in the bestselling Wideacre Trilogy of novels.
Set in the eighteenth century, they launched the career of Philippa Gregory , the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin's Lover.
Meridon, a desolate Romany girl, is determined to escape the hard poverty of her childhood.
Riding bareback in a travelling show, while her sister Dandy risks her life on the trapeze, Meridon dedicates herself to freeing them both from danger and want.
But Dandy, beautiful, impatient, thieving Dandy, grabs too much, too quickly. And Meridon finds herself alone, riding in bitter grief through the rich Sussex farmlands towards a house called Wideacre - which awaits the return of the last of the Laceys.
Sweeping, passionate, unique: 'Meridon' completes Philippa Gregory's bestselling trilogy which began with 'Wideacre' and continued with 'The Favoured Child'.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 576 pages, maps
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 02/01/2002
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780006514633
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Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
Philippa Gregory's <i>Wideacre</i> trilogy is my guilty pleasure. Written by a lesser author, and lacking Gregory's flawless and flowing grasp of eighteenth century social history, these novels could easily be dismissed as romantic potboilers. Indeed, <i>Wideacre</i>, <i>The Favoured Child</i> and <i>Meridon</i> contain all the ingredients of a soap opera in prose form - red-headed heroines, gypsies, love affairs, rape, incest, murder ... And yet somehow, Philippa Gregory gets away with it. <i>Meridon</i> nearly tipped the scales for me, but once again, I was gripped and had to keep reading. Meridon Cox, raised by a gypsy and sold to a showman, knows she doesn't belong in the bare and brutal life of a traveller's daughter. She dreams of a large golden house and a place known to her only as 'Wide', and of a broken-hearted woman by a river calling 'Her name is Sarah!' This vision of her destiny, and the love of a beautiful dark-haired sister called Dandy, is all that keeps Meridon going through the hard work and hardships of her early years. But when Meridon, who was not born to the land like her mother and grandmother before her, comes to reclaim her birthright as squire of Wideacre, she finds that money and power come at a great cost.Meridon - Sarah Lacey, daughter of Julia - is the product of two incestuous unions between brother and sister, so she should probably have three eyes and webbed fingers, but the sins of the ever-decreasing Lacey family tree are more internalised than that: the girl has serious issues. I itched to slap her throughout, especially when she ran away from the circus and 'found' her place at Wideacre. What was so special about Dandy, who obviously <i>wasn't</i> her sister and was a slapper to boot, that made Meridon worship her? Why should the villagers of Acre have to pay for her massive grudge against men and the world at large? She was also rather too free with her whip. And then I realised that my reactions were being skilfully crafted by the author, who <i>wants</i> the reader to turn against Meridon, so that when she finally fights back, we are cheering her on! I swallowed the tragedy on the trapeze, and the mythical connection with the land, and the deathbed chicanery, all because I knew Meridon/Sarah would get her own back in the end. And that's when Meridon - and Philippa Gregory - let me down. The ending is ridiculous, even for this trilogy. Women dressing up in breeches and a cap and being taken for a man is the worst kind of cliched, unbelievable plot device in historical romance, and yet the denouement of the novel is hinged on just such a gimmick. No one, least of all her husband and a room full of con artists, would believe that Sarah was a man, just because she cut her hair short and spoke with a deep voice. Perhaps the author was pushed for time, or couldn't think how else to rescue Sarah from her mother-in-law's clutches, but the last few chapters were a complete let down for me. The whole novel was basically reduced to Meridon working through her grief and learning a valuable moral lesson about the evils of wealth. I enjoyed the rest of the saga, learning about horses and aerial performers at the circus - and at least Meridon had more spine than her mother, Julia - but what a disappointing finale!I would definitely recommend <i>Wideacre</i> to the unsuspecting reader, but neither of the two sequels match up to the first novel, and both Julia and Meridon are inferior to Beatrice for sheer cunning and audacity. But that's inbreeding for you.