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.
|New paperback cover|
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.