By: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: August 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 21, 2009
Life was hard in rural England in the 1850s. For Pell Ridley, a poor girl with a knack for working with horses, life was about to get much tougher. She was betrothed to her childhood sweetheart, Birdie Finch, but as time passed, Pell came to realize that she didn’t want to become a broodmare, producing child after child while also being worked half to death like her mother. So, early on the morning of her wedding, Pell took her horse Jack and made a dash for freedom. Unfortunately, her younger brother Bean, a sweet mute, decided to tag along.
Pell, Bean, and Jack travel to the Salisbury Fair, a horse trading/buying event where Pell hopes to use her horse skills to find work. But things go from bad to worse when Harris, a gentleman who hired Pell to select several horses for him, goes missing before he pays her the promised salary. Along with Harris, Bean and Jack disappear. Thus begins Pell’s determined search for her brother, horse, and a life worth living.
The Bride’s Farewell is a gripping tale of heartache, love of family, and the determination of one young woman. Pell meets many people along the road as she searches for Bean and Jack, in particular a handsome man she calls ‘Dogman.’ But Pell’s loyalty to her family continually draws her away from situations that could make things easier for her – she must find Bean. Author Rosoff has a succinct, clear writing style that conveys the anguish of her lead character without using a lot of needless language. This is not a novel for those looking for cheery, ‘isn’t life wonderful’ adventures. It is a stark look at life in the 1850s, with its workhouses, poverty, and desperation. But The Bride’s Farewell is also a mesmerizing tale of love and devotion.
Quill says: If you enjoy stories with strong woman leads, don’t miss Meg Rosoff’s latest offering.