Monday, 11 April 2011

Book Review: The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff

The Bride's FarewellGoodreads summary:

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. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse, and small mute Bean who refuses to be left behind.
The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks?
With all the hallmarks of Meg Rosoff’s extraordinary writing, The Bride’s Farewell also breaks new ground for this author, in a nineteenth-century, Hardyesque setting. This is a moving story of love and lost things, with a core of deep, beautiful romance.

My thoughts and review

I was really hoping that I was going to love this because I haven't read any other of Meg Rosoff's books but I've heard good things about them and thought it must be great in order to get onto the Carnegie Medal Award shortlist 2011. It turned out that I really liked the author's writing because it was descriptive and colourful but it was the plot that let me down. This was because it had all the right ingredients to make a beautiful fairy tale like historical story: a likable and determined heroine, a idyllic countryside setting, a hint of romance and well crafted writing. I enjoyed the first chapters so I was disappointed to find not much seemed to happen after that. I just wasn't gripped by it at all and it didn't capture my imagination.

Nevertheless, the MC Pell Ridley is an independent and strong young girl who is determined to avoid the fate of her mother with endless toil and a house full of hungry little mouths. I admired her courage as she left everything she had ever known and loved on the morning of her wedding to seek a new life for herself in the city with only her magnificent white horse Jack and her mute adopted brother Bean. Pell has a admirable talent in working with horses and is hired at the Salisbury Fair to help a man pick out the best horses to buy. When he makes off without paying her and she loses both Bean and Jack, leaving her to travel cold and hungry on the open rural road. This is where the rest of the story is built on, with Pell wondering the countryside trying to restore what is hers and find shelter to survive. Soon her old feisty nature seemed to dwindle and she wears a disheartened attitude on her journey. I didn't like this sudden change in her character and gradually felt more and more disconnected and tired with her as she became rather dull.

The supposed romance with Pell and a man she meets along her journey fell completely flat for me because it seemed almost as if the romance hinted just seemed to have been put in for the sake of it because there wasn't really any and no proper development of it. I also didn't know enough about the man and what his personality was like to make a decision about whether I wanted Pell to find happiness with him.

I thought that the historical setting worked nicely but for a long way into the story it was hard to tell whether it was set in the Tudor or Victorian era (it was set in the 1850's) because there weren't many differentiating descriptions. I would have liked to have seen this further developed and made use of.

The Bride's Farewell
New paperback cover
I've heard The Bride's Farewell being compared to Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbivilles which I read last month and I can see a few of the similarities that could be seen between Pell and Tess but Tess was a much more rounded and developed character. There are also similarities in the countryside setting and of the theme of a an impoverished Victorian girl finding her place in the world.

Verdict: The Bride's Farewell had a brilliant premise and could have been a book I loved but instead the story was slow moving, the plot wasn't memorable and my interest lagged towards the end. However the writing was finely crafted and and overall this book was just okay. I don't think it deserves to win the Carnegie Medal Award this year.

I struggled over what rating to give this book because I liked it more than another recent book I gave it a 2.5 but I felt that was more creative and added something fresh to its genre.

Rating: 2

I found my favourite quote of the book to show what I liked about Meg Rosoff's writing:

"For those poor souls who can only think of the terrible fear and danger of a runaway horse, think of this: a speed like water flowing over stone, a skimming sensation that hovers and dips while the world spins around and the wind drags your skin taut across your bones. You can close your eyes and lose yourself in the rhythm, because nothing you do or shout or wish for will happen until the running makes up its mind to stop. So you hold steady, balancing yourself in the wake, and unhook your mind from the everyday while you wait at the silent center of it all and hope that the feeling won't stop till you're good and ready for life to be ordinary once more.The problem being that she never was."


  1. How interesting, I too read this book, and actually could not finish it.
    I find it to have a very dull plot, and dull characters. The writing was lovely, but there just wasn't anything there for me. :/
    Thank you for this honest review!

  2. I hate when you can't tell what time era a book is...its even worse when you have to keep checking the book summary on the back to remind yourself. Or having to check online, I've had to do that a couple times. Better luck with the next book!

  3. I read a book by her that I liked but this, perhaps not

  4. Oh no, too bad! I was looking forward to reading your review because the book looked interesting. I have no tolerance for slow plots that don't really go anywhere and romances I just can't get into. Thank you for your honest review.


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