One of my all time favorite authors is Philippa Gregory. She writes historical fiction set primarily in the Tudor era. I would say her most well known book is The Other Boleyn Girl, which is also one of my favorites and I will be doing reviews on that entire series. One day as I was looking for some new books of hers to read I came across one called Wideacre. It is the first in a three part series with the next two being The Favored Child and Meridon. Let me just say I was shocked. Not that the book isn’t good, I love it actually, but it is quite, um, scandalous.
Wideacre takes place in late 1700’s England on a wealthy estate lived on by a Squire and his family. Beatrice Lacey is the Squire’s daughter and our main character. She’s one of those characters that you love and hate. I have read many books and she is one of the most vile characters I have came across. Beatrice is what you would call an extreme feminist with probably some serious mental issues. She is determined to inherit her father’s estate over her older brother, Harry. Of course this would have never happened in that time period but she is determined. She comes to the realization that the wife of the Squire be entitled to the land as well.
Beatrice seduces her own brother when she is just a teenager. She can’t marry him, of course, but she does go on to have two of his children. She “allows” him to get married and they carry on their affair behind his wife’s back. This in Beatrice’s mind makes her the rightful Squire’s wife. Beatrice goes on to destroy everyone’s life including her own. She’s selfish, spoiled and vain; but at times you see a glimmer of a woman who doesn’t want to be this way. She doesn’t want to hurt her loved ones, she just wants to be happy and treated equally, but then the crazy comes out and warps all the good inside of her.
This book is one of my favorites. Among Gregory fans the Wideacre trilogy usually gets terrible reviews, and I mean, I get it. It’s filled with murder, abuse, incest and all kinds of awful stuff but it’s so dramatic and well written you want to keep reading. If you enjoy well written historical fiction and can overlook or don’t mind those topics then you should really read this. Of course, if you’re sensitive to negative things, like incest, I say skip this series and try out The Other Boleyn Girl. I hope this was helpful and enjoyable! Merry Christmas!