The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff
Viking, New York, 2009
Borrowed from the library.
I read this for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.
I first found Meg Rosoff’s work last summer when I read What I Was. I was captivated by her words. My review of that book is here. This new novel solidifies my appreciation for Rosoff’s commitment to her stories and the clarity of her writing.
The Bride’s Farewell takes place in and around the cathedral city of Salisbury, near the Salisbury Plain, the location of one of the world’s most famous pre-historic monuments.
It is the story of Pell Ridley, her need to break free of grinding poverty and of her family’s and her community’s expectations.
On the morning of her wedding day Pell takes her small dowry, her horse Jack, and somewhat unwillingly, her brother Bean and runs away. She heads for the Salisbury Fair. Her plan? To to find work, escape a marriage she dreads, and start a life for herself.
It was a tangle of a family, for better or worse, a right complexity of children, all knotted up with love and jealousy, and all competing for anything they could get-food, boots, underclothes without holes, a shawl, a piece of bread, a kind word from Mam. Each acquisition took on the status of treasure in times so tight you thought you might die for the want of a half a spoonful of drippings or a shoe you couldn’t see through. From page 24.
Although Pell has great knowledge of and skill with horses her journey towards independence is not easy. She is robbed, harassed and threatened. There is separation and loss but also, eventually, healing and love. As with What I Was, Rosoff takes great care with place and setting, bringing the Fair, the city, Pell’s travels and the local people to life. The story feels historically accurate, a bit like reading Hardy or Dickens, but no where near as dense. It is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Bride’s Farewell is being marketed as a young adult novel but, as with many YA titles, I found it a quick and engaging read. I am planning on reading How I Live Now within the next few months.