Good afternoon fellow bookworms!
This time, I’m back with a negative book review; something which I’ve never uploaded on this blog!
Roughly a year ago, I found the book Wideacre by Philippa Gregory in an Oxfam book sale. Now Philippa Gregory is an author I have read multiple books by (I first picked up one of her books at the recommendation of my history teacher) and I’ve enjoyed almost all of those that I’ve read.
I’d first picked up this book because I liked the sound of it from the blurb, which is as follows:
“Wideacre Hall, set in the heart of the English countryside, is the ancestral home that Beatrice Lacey loves. Built from yellow stone, facing due south and surrounded by the rich woodlands and rolling downs of Sussex, it has been in her family for generations. But as a woman in England in the 1770s she has no right of inheritance; only a loveless arranged marriage lies ahead. Beautiful, sensual and passionate, Beatrice sets out to pursue her own goal: control over Wideacre – at any cost.
Yet even as her scheming succeeds, Beatrice is haunted by the one person alive who fully understands her obsession and knows her capacity to let nothing – and no-one – stand in her way.”
(In case any of you didn’t fully read the title of this post, this review does contain spoilers – don’t read on unless you plan to read this)!
Initially, I liked this book. I liked how it opened, with Beatrice as a child, being taught how the Estate was ran by her father and I disliked her mother, who tried to force her into staying at home and learning skills such as needlework (she later became one of my favourite characters, partly because I sympathised with her).
When Beatrice got older and started sneaking away to meet Ralph (the gamekeeper’s son/future gamekeeper), I figured they’d be discovered and that would be the end of that.
I’ll be honest, the sex scenes in almost every/every other chapter were a little overkill and made it a little awkward to read, but she was young and this was her childhood crush so fair enough, I guess?
No. It got worse.
When Harry (Beatrice’s older brother) found them, I thought he’d tell their father, or at least their mother (who he was closest to). I didn’t expect him to ask to be beaten by Ralph (I mean, why didn’t I just stop reading at this point).
Then when Ralph killed her father, I was furious (with both of them to be honest, because she should never have agreed to it in the first place). If I’m honest, the book kind of went (rapidly) downhill from there; probably because I started to really dislike Beatrice.
I really didn’t like the whole incest side of the story, especially when Harry got Beatrice pregnant twice and she then lied about it.
Honestly, I could spend all day complaining about this book but I’ll summarise the rest of it here before I get annoyed about it all over again:
- Dr MacAndrew was lovely and deserved a million times better than Beatrice (he would have still married her if she’d actually told the truth and said she was pregnant with another man’s baby although maybe not if she’d told him it was her brother’s) – she completely ruined his life AND stole his fortune/inheritance.
- Celia was an angel and should have just married Dr MacAndrew because her husband (Harry) did not deserve her.
- The ending wasn’t the greatest and I don’t plan on reading the second and third books (Wideacre is the first in a trilogy), but I hope Celia finds a new husband and manages to have children of her own.
Overall, the plot wasn’t bad, but I would have enjoyed this book more if there was less sex scenes and no incest. If Beatrice had come up with a different plan to win Wideacre (and had non-incestuous children to leave Wideacre to), or even if she had followed Ralph’s plan to kill off her father, then slowly bankrupt Harry and buy Wideacre for themselves, I think the book would have been better.
I don’t think I’ll ever read the rest of this trilogy (but I’ve said that about other trilogies so who knows) and I don’t think this is a book I’d recommend to others.
Rating: 2 Stars (If you’ve never read one of my book reviews before, you might want to read my post that explains my rating system).
Have any of you read this book? What did you think of it?