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Review of Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

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I’ve read a few of Philippa Gregory’s historical books and haven’t thought of her placing her in the category of Erotica, that is until I picked up Wideacre which is the first of the Wideacre Trilogy and Philippa’s début novel.

According to the blurb

‘Wideacre Hall, set in the heart of the English countryside, is the ancestral home that Beatrice Lacey loves. But as a woman of the eighteenth century she has no right of inheritance. Corrupted by a world that mistreats women, she sets out to corrupt others. Sexual and wilful, she believes that the only way to achieve control over Wideacre is through a series of horrible crimes, and no-one escapes the consequences of her need to possess the land.’

The book itself is quite a hefty read with over 600 pages but I read it over the space of a few nights, this is the first time this has happened for a long time, particularly with 5 children and a business to run. I just couldn’t put it down.

I found the book to be a dark but fascinating story which centre’s around the life of Beatrice Lacey, the daughter of a English Squire in beautiful Surrey. At just five years old she realises that as a girl, she will always be second best to her older brother both in the eyes of her family and in the eyes of the law. Despite being the more competent of the two siblings, she will never inherit the land that she love with a fearsome passion. Desperate to prevent control of the estate falling out of her hands she embarks upon a dark and dangerous series of events with no conscience or regard for the consequences of her actions.

Sexually deviant and wilful, no one escapes Beatrice’s obsessive need to own Wideacre and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. There is also the added threat of mysterious stranger who is getting closer and closer to Wideacre. Why is Beatrice so frightened of him and can she evade his clutches?

As a character, Beatrice is very difficult to empathise with. She is narcissistic, manipulative and cruel. However, as her character gains momentum and the story unfolds it’s difficult not to get caught up in a tale that you hope will end with Beatrice’s heart’s desire. She is a person who as a reader, I wanted to save and I desperately felt for the other characters caught up in Beatrice’s insanity.

The other characters are beautifully written and dance so easily to Beatrice’s tune until one by one, the chickens come home to roost.

The story is beautifully crafted and I couldn’t put it down, from the first page I was gripped by Wideacre and this is illustrative of Philippa Gregory’s amazing talent as a writer particularly as Widecare was her début novel. The twists and turns are exciting and I simply HAD to know what happened next.

I ordered the next novel, The Favoured Child before Wideacre had even finished!

It’s a great book but I wouldn’t recommend starting it if you have anything important to do like eating, sleeping or even going to work…

Wideacre is available from Amazon for just £6.20 but I’d recommend buying a used copy and paying the postage costs. I save a lot of money buying this way.

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