|The Bride's Farewell|
At the opening of this novel, a mid-19th-century tomboy named Pell Ridley faces an important decision: marry a man she doesn't love to exchange her life of freedom for a life of household drudgery, or strike out on horseback for the unknown.
At the opening of this novel, a mid-19th-century tomboy named Pell Ridley faces an important decision: marry a man she doesn't love to exchange her life of freedom for a life of household drudgery, or strike out on horseback for the unknown. Unsurprisingly (this is a novel, after all), she chooses the latter and soon finds herself among a colorful cast of characters, including gypsies, horse traders, poachers, bakers, and orphans. In this way, the novel is similar to Dickens' stories of young people astray, except Rosoff cleverly exposes how an unmarried young woman in this position is much more socially restricted than the iconic characters of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Rosoff also merges Pell's adventures with the stories of other Ridley family members, demonstrating how the courses of their lives are still interdependent. Simultaneously, the voice of the novel takes on a little of each character, so that it sounds like any one character could be narrating. The main thickening of the plot comes when Pell's younger brother Bean follows Pell as she escapes from home but later goes missing himself. In searching for him, Pell unknowingly stirs up her father's sordid past and learns that her own search for reinvention has consequences she can't foresee. Her choices at the end represent a sort of compromise between her duty to her family and her desire for freedom.
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