The Bride’s Farewell – Meg Rosoff: review

“On the morning she was to be married, Pell Ridley crept up from her bed in the dark, kissed her sisters goodbye, fetched Jack in from the wind and rain on the heath and told him they were leaving. Not that he was likely to offer any objections, being a horse.”
Pell Ridley wants more to life than a husband and as many children that she can physically bear. She knows that Birdie, her husband-to-be, would be better acquainted as her hand, as she is the better stable person. But living in the world she lives in, it’s not right for a woman to be doing that kind of work. They should marry a man, be a good wife, and produce good children.
With this in mind Pell decides it’s better to leave on the morning of her wedding day, go to a place she won’t be recognised, and try and find any work she can, be it maid, nursery nurse,  cook, whatever, so long as she doesn’t have to spend her life producing child after child as her mother has. However, Pell doesn’t realise that her disappearing in the middle of the night has more of an effect on her family than she could even imagine.
The Bride’s farewell is so far out of my reading “comfort” range I didn’t even think I would like it. I only picked it up because I had heard such amazing things about Meg Rosoffs writing and her first book, How I Live Now. So in all honesty, I liked The Brides Farewell more than I thought I would but I don’t know if that’s any consolation as I thought I wouldn’t like it at all!
Pell is a massively strong character, she wants her independence at any cost, no matter what kind of people she meets trying to get it. More than once in the book she is addressed as a harlot frowned upon for having no husband around with her. She embarks on her journey with her young mute brother, however he is not actually her real brother and he is frequently thought to be her “bastard” child.
The book is set in the mid 1800’s. I don’t often delve into historical stories like this as I tend to get really annoyed with the whole sexism thing, and The Bride’s Farewell wasn’t any different. I found myself infuriated with the men throughout this book, and to be perfectly honest, the women too, especially Eliza. The men who called Pell a harlot because she didn’t offer them “payment in other ways” – hello contradiction much! This isn’t a measure on the book itself though… It’s just the way society was.
I loved that Pell was a more modern thinking woman but not too modern, she wanted her freedom to work and so the jobs she wanted to do but knew that family was the most important thing in life. She was fine with getting married but only if it meant being in an equal partnership and not bearing so many children you couldn’t feed them all!
The storyline of The Bride’s Farewell bored me a little bit; I wanted more action, more suspense. But let’s face it, for a women’s story of that time in history it’s not gunna be steeped in action! It was an enjoyable read, but much like Austin or Bronte, or anything set around that time, it flowed through life and what happened, happened.
As I say I have heard amazing things about Rosoff’s writing, and from this book I can really see where people are coming from. She really does have a beautiful way with words; I was very much reminded of the classics when reading this book. The Bride’s farewell really is a depressing read, and I think I probably would have stopped reading if it wasn’t for the writing and the character of Pell. I kept going because I was hoping things would get better for her.
I am glad I picked this one up in the library to be honest. It won’t put me off reading How I Live Now, as I know that’s on a completely different sunject, but I really don’t think I’d bother reading it again. It was as depressing as you can imagine it being and although I liked Pell for going with what she believes is right, and trying to gain her independence I couldn’t relate properly to her character.  I did enjoy it but not enough to say “yeah you should definitely read this one”… it’s more of a “yeah read it if you want but only if it’s there” kinda read. Unless of course you love classics, like Jane Austin, the Brontes, Hardy etc… then you probably will really enjoy it. 


  • Phanee

    I recently read Just In Case by Meg Rosoff and I can’t say I loved it. (After my brother read my review, he told me off for not liking Justin in the book. I couldn’t help it; I just couldn’t relate to him…) I have to concede that Meg Rosoff does have a very nice way of writing, so I am not reluctant to pick up another one of her book, just because I didn’t particularly enjoy one.

    That being said, I enjoy historical fiction books, so this one sounds right up my alley! Thanks for the honest review! 🙂

  • The Slowest Bookworm

    I totally ‘get’ you with this. I think I would feel the same. This book would be totally out of my comfort zone too and I’m not sure I could deal with it as well as you did if the sexism etc annoyed you.

  • Clover

    I really loved this book and of course Meg Rosoff, but I can see how you and other readers might find it slow. I think what’s great about the book is that Pell chooses her own path away from what’s expected of women at the time. I think it shows great strength and courage to do that. I also love that Meg Rosoff always chooses sort of non-traditional love interests.

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