The Bride's Farewell: A Novel

The Bride's Farewell: A Novel

3.7 7
by Meg Rosoff

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A young woman runs away from home and finds love in the most unexpected place

In Meg Rosoff's fourth novel, a young woman in 1850s rural England runs away from home on horseback the day she's to marry her childhood sweetheart. Pell is from a poor preacher's family and she's watched her mother suffer for years under the burden of caring for anSee more details below


A young woman runs away from home and finds love in the most unexpected place

In Meg Rosoff's fourth novel, a young woman in 1850s rural England runs away from home on horseback the day she's to marry her childhood sweetheart. Pell is from a poor preacher's family and she's watched her mother suffer for years under the burden of caring for an ever-increasing number of children. Pell yearns to escape the inevitable repetition of such a life.

She understands horses better than people and sets off for Salisbury Fair, where horse trading takes place, in the hope of finding work and buying herself some time. But as she rides farther away from home, Pell's feelings for her parents, her siblings, and her fiancé surprise her with their strength and alter the course of her travels. And her journey leads her to find love where she least expects it.

Rosoff's magical voice and her novel's ethereal setting will thrill her passionate longtime fans and garner her new ones.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Pell Ridley is the adventurous heroine in this serviceably told tale, the fourth novel for London-based Rosoff, who has written successfully for the YA market. On her wedding day, Pell leaves town on her faithful horse, Jack, grudgingly bringing along her mute younger brother, Bean. Pell shirks expectations and jilts her childhood beau, Birdie, with an oddly modern defiance of 1850s England convention. No matter that Birdie seems a nice enough man, unlike her abusive preacher father-Pell is stubborn in her desire to flee the domestic life in Nomansland that mires her mother in a sea of children and overwork. Pell arrives at the Salisbury horse fair and her adventures begin. She is separated from Bean and her horse but meets a poacher she dubs Dogman (he travels with a pack of dogs) and together they wander the countryside living on bread crusts and flickering hope. Pell's love and knowledge of horses factors largely in her fight for survival, but it's human love-romantic and familial-that drives plucky Pell and leads us to this simple but satisfying story's happy if unsurprising conclusion. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal
Adult/High School—In rural 1850s England, a horse-mad young woman flees home on her wedding day. Fearful that her fiancé's promise of "a house full of children" will translate into a future of drudgery, Pell plans to visit the Salisbury Horse Fair. Her mute little brother insists on accompanying her, but when he and her horse disappear at the fair—along with the man for whom she's spent the day working and who still owes her money—Pell's vision of her future is drastically altered. The twists and turns along her new path bring her into contact with a wide variety of people, from the Gypsy family that helps her on her way to Dogman, to a taciturn poacher who becomes her savior. Rosoff's simple yet descriptive language paints a clear picture of a world both bleak and beautiful. Like the setting, the characters are many faceted. Nobody, including Pell, is entirely good or evil. Readers will appreciate her journey, both the external search for her brother and a place in the world for herself, and the internal pursuit of balance between familial responsibilities and personal satisfaction. Teens will relate to Pell's internal conflict and refusal to settle onto the path life seems intent to force upon her. Rosoff's first adult title is as finally crafted as her Printz Award-winning How I Live Now (Random, 2004).—Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Two social outcasts find each other against a background of harsh social circumstances in a sorrowful tale from Carnegie Medal winner Rosoff (What I Was, 2008, etc.). There's a flavor of Thomas Hardy to the British novelist's story of survival and suffering in mid-19th-century southern England. Rosoff, author of several books for children and young adults, plunges readers straight into the story of Pell Ridley, whose impoverished family is dominated by her alcoholic, violent father. Accompanied by her mute stepbrother Bean, both of them riding on her horse Jack, Pell is fleeing the prospect of a loveless marriage to the simple-hearted boy next door. She has a gift for horses and wants better for herself. At Salisbury Fair, a horse-buyer, assisted by a poacher, offers cash in exchange for Pell's advice, but in the process she loses Bean, Jack and the money. Nevertheless, alone and on the road, Pell remains indefatigable and fortunate. A gypsy named Esther and her family offer advice, sustenance and a dog. Eventually Pell finds the poacher, a man of few words, who becomes her lover. Later she learns her parents have been killed in a fire; she must rescue her sisters from the workhouse. There's a blissful period while Pell works as a groom, but she can't rest until she finds both Bean and Jack. Fragmented and overloaded with coincidences, but emotionally engaging, treading the line between YA and adult fiction.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


On the morning of August the twelfth, eighteen hundred and fifty something, on the day 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.

There wasn’t much to take. Bread and cheese and a bottle of ale, a clean apron, a rope for Jack, and a book belonging to Mam with pictures of birds drawn in soft pencil, which no one ever looked at but her.

The dress in which she was to be married she left untouched, spread over a dusty chair. Then she felt carefully inside the best teapot for the coins put away for her dowry, slipped the rope around Jack’s neck and turned to go.

Head down, squinting into the rain, she stopped short at the sight of a ghostly figure in the path. It had as little substance as a moth, but its eyes burned a hole in the dark.

“Go back to bed, Bean.”

It didn’t budge.

She sighed, noticing how the pale oval of a face remained stubbornly set.

“Please, Bean. Go home.” Oh God, she thought, no. But it was no use appealing to God about something already decided.

Without waiting to be invited, the boy scrambled up onto Jack, and with no other option she pulled herself up behind him, feeling the warmth of his thin body against her own. And so it was, with a resigned chirrup to Jack and no tear in her eye, that they set off down the hill, heading north, which at that moment appeared to be the exact direction in which lay the rest of the world.

“I’m sorry,Birdie,” whispered the girl, with a final thought for the husband that should have been. Perhaps at the last minute he would find another bride. Perhaps he would marry Lou. Anyone will do, she thought. As long as it isn’t me.

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