Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff's teen novels have all been quite different from each other, although they are all coming-of-age stories. How I Live Now is a page-turner transgressive love story set in the near future, in an England occupied by an invading army. Just In Case is a hilarious, present-day story with touches of surrealism about trying to outwit one's destiny. What I Was feels timeless and is told from our near future about a time in our near past; a leisurely exploration of friendship and identity that highlights the difference between perception and reality.

Rosoff's latest is a dashing mix of adventure and romance set in the mid-nineteenth century English countryside. Pell Ridley, eldest of a family of 10 children, flees home on the morning of her wedding day, accompanied by her mute brother, Bean, the youngest. The tale is of a plucky heroine, getting by on her wits, determination and hard labour. The adults, usually absent in Rosoff's books, are plentiful here, but do not fare well. They are untrustworthy, if not unsavoury, and even the best of them, an old Romani woman, has her own mysterious ulterior motives for helping Pell.

The Bride's Farewell will appeal to a broad cross-section of female teen readers (and probably adults too); fans of historical romance, horse stories and even fantasy - the low-technology, small town and rural setting brings Tamora Pierce's books to mind - and, of course, there is the appeal of a spirited and capable girl-adventurer. Grade 6 and up.

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