Rosoff, M. (2009). The Bride's Farewell. Doubleday Canada.
I decided, fellow readers, to try and work my way through a few of the 2010 Alex Award winners -- books initially written for adults that appeal to younger audiences as well.
These are the best books, in my opinion, because I can haul them out in public areas and look like a grown-up, while at the same time enjoying the superior literature that YA books always offer. Win win!
I'd already read Stitches earlier in the year, so I closed my eyes, pointed wildly, and landed on The Bride's Farewell, by Meg Rosoff.
So guys, everything I read about this book kept referring to it as a deep and beautiful romance, with lessons about love, and family, and searching for home.
These same reviews neglected to warn me that the book is also really depressing! I suppose I should have known it would have edgy and gloomy, given the author, but... but it had such a positive title! I just was not prepared.
I'm going to try to give you a run-down of the book and my opinions, but it's going to be seriously difficult to not give away any of the sad little spoilers that are liberally sprinkled throughout the text. Not that the book comes to any sort of surprise ending, but watching the buildup of Sad after Sad after Sad does at least make you somewhat relieved at how everything all turns out.
Pell Ridley, the novel's protagonist, has had the kind of life that presumably resembles that of any intelligent farmgirl in the mid-19th century. It is expected that she will marry her childhood sweetheart and live out her days within walking distance of her family (a creepy and abusive preacher father and a mother who has given birth to too many children in too many years), popping out babies and being generally discontented with her life.
Thank goodness for the reader, Pell announces Thank you, but no, and takes off in the middle of the night with nothing but her gorgeous white horse and her mute younger brother, Bean, who silently glares at her until she lets him come along. She loves horses more than people, and she's certain that she can find work somewhere...in a stable, maybe?
Bean manages to get lost while the he and his sister are at a horse fair, and Pell is forced on a cross-country semi-adventure to try and find him. Along the way she meets gypsies, poachers, and horse breeders. She experiences the horror of workhouses, must deal with the scorn and occasional violence of townspeople, and does, eventually, fall in love.
Watching the pieces fall into place in Pell's life, as each of her (spoiler -- surviving!) family members (along with Jack the horse) find their own individual lives, separate from hers, is sometimes tragic and sometimes moving and always a little bittersweet. Pell grows up fast -- and the end, when it comes, happens perhaps not exactly as one would hope, but certainly in a realistic way.
And for those of you who wanted an adorable romance filled with happiness and all-encompassing joy? The books only 200 pages. Read it for the sweeping beauty of the prose, if for nothing else.
"Toil and hardship and a clamor of mouths to feed? Not now, Pell thought. Not ever."
"For those poor souls who can only think of the terrible fear and danger of a runaway horse, think of this: a speed like water flowing over stone, a skimming sensation that hovers and dips while the world spins around and the wind drags your skin taut across your bones. You can close your eyes and lose yourself in the rhythm, because nothing you do or shout or wish for will happen until the running makes up its mind to stop. So you hold steady, balancing yourself in the wake, and unhook your mind from the everyday while you wait at the silent center of it all and hope that the feeling won't stop till you're good and ready for life to be ordinary once more.
The problem being that she never was."
Tasty Rating: !!!