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 her little brother, Bean, unexpectedly decides to join the runaway pair. 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.
If you are a fan of Meg Rosoff you are in for a treat reading The Bride's Farewell. Richly evocative and haunting, her writing is pure magic to read. And reading it out loud, which I did whilst at home yesterday, makes the story come to life, giving it an extra dimension.
Very few authors can get away writing intimately about a character's inner dialogue and successfully adapt an overall narrative voice that is gripping enough to keep you focussed.
Following Pell's adventures and mishaps throughout the book you are struck by the almost picturesque poverty she encounters in her wanderings around the south of England. It is never glorified or looked at through rose coloured glasses, but the subtlety she employs to show average people struggling to survive serves to shock nonetheless.
I enjoyed Pell's headstrong ways - a very together girl in a very big world, deciding to follow her own head and not to submit to convention. She stays close to her little brother Bean who had snuck off with her. Bean remains an enigma - he is mute but not stupid and has an easy way with animals. Pell is horsewhisperer and instinctively knows things about these animals and proves her affinity for them several times throughout the novel. She makes her solitary way down to Salisbury where she hopes to find work as a groom any other job that involves her working with horses, as that is what she knows best. She arrives at the time of one of the big horse fairs and meets a variety of people, including a gypsy family whom she falls in with for a few days.
The story defies pigeonholing and I am hesitant to go into further detail but let's just say that Pell loses some things close to her and it drives her forward - not only does she have to find somewhere to live and work in order not to starve, she has to discover what has happened to these two precious things that have been taken from her.
The story is a quick but beautiful read - wonderfully descriptive and touching. I would heartily recommend this to all existing readers of Meg Rosoff's books but would also invite readers who have not yet given her a try to pick this up as a perfect introduction to her wonderful writing.
The Bride's Farewell is out on 3rd September from Puffin. And although it is aimed at young adults it has great cross-over appeal and will no doubt garner more praise to this amazing writer's name.