The Favoured Child, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The second novel in the bestselling Wideacre Trilogy, a compulsive drama set in the eighteenth century.

By Philippa Gregory, the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin's Lover.The Wideacre estate is bankrupt, the villagers are living in poverty and Wideacre Hall is a smoke-blackened ruin.But in the Dower House two children are being raised in protected innocence.

Equal claimants to the inheritance of Wideacre, rivals for the love of the village, they are tied by a secret childhood betrothal but forbidden to marry.

Only one can be the favoured child. Only one can inherit the magical understanding between the land and the Lacey family that can make the Sussex village grow green again.

Only one can be Beatrice Lacey's true heir.Sweeping, passionate, unique: 'The Favoured Child' is the second novel in Philippa Gregory's bestselling trilogy which began with 'Wideacre' and concluded with 'Meridon'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 640 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9780007230020

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For the faint of heart who complained about <i>Wideacre</i>, the first novel in Philippa Gregory's trilogy, there will be no need to warn that <i>The Favoured Child</i> continues in the same ever-decreasing circles. Julia Lacey and Richard McAndrew are Beatrice's children, joint heirs to the land who have also inherited the best and worst traits of their mother. (I must confess that I had forgotten exactly how warped the parentage in <i>Wideacre</i> was, and the Wiki synopsis of the book shocked me again!) But to fellow fans of this series, who love the twisted characters and the high drama of the novels, then this sequel is a worthy successor to the <i>Wideacre</i> controversy. Not exactly high literature, but very entertaining and easy to read! To misquote Victor Kiam, I love it so much I bought the set!Julia and Richard are Beatrice's children, but also the polar opposites of her personality embodied in two individual characters, which is perhaps why neither work as well as Beatrice Lacey in <i>Wideacre</i>. Beatrice held the entire story with the strength of her own character, but Julia as narrator is a passive witness to her own life, and Richard quickly turns into a pantomime villain, all cackling laughter and evil deeds. For the most part, I did find Julia to be sympathetic and historically accurate, full of good intentions but without the confidence to act on her own, yet she can also be extremely infuriating. She represents the powerless state of eighteenth century women, controlled by society's expectations and owned by their husbands, and the point is regularly drummed home. But she is also the favoured child, sharing Beatrice's link with the land and her second sight - so much is made of this vital, mystical connection in the first half of the novel, only for Julia to throw it all away in the second. Maddening! Richard, in comparison, has all of Beatrice's greed and ambition and jealousy but without any of her depth or motivation - he's just a mad bully, with the dangerous capacity to charm and terrorise with equal impact. <i>The Favoured Child</i> is a sensational, supernatural epic, which must be read as a sequel to <i>Wideacre</i>, but also a well-crafted historical novel, with an imposing message about the balance of power in late eighteenth century England. The Quality and the parish poor, landlords and labourers, men and women - while the French are fighting a revolution across the Channel, the struggle for independence is seething away beneath the pastoral beauty of the countryside, and amongst the Laceys of Wideacre, a corrupt family slowly turning in on themselves. I appreciated the historical social commentary, from the revival of Wideacre to the Austen-esque chapters in Bath, and enjoyed reading about another self-destructive generation of Beatrice's family. The ending is slightly rushed, with shocking deaths tacked on merely to accelerate the plot, but well worth waiting for - and I am glad I have <i>Meridon</i>, the last novel in the trilogy, already to hand!

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