Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

Beatrice Lacey, the strong willed, gorgeous red-headed daughter of the Squire of Wideacre, refuses to conform to the customs of her time. Realizing that upon her marriage, she is destined to lose not only her family name, but the only thing she has ever loved (Wideacre Esate) as well, our (anti) heroine, will stop at nothing protect her what she considers "hers". Seduction, lies and murder -- Beatrice's desire to own her own land is without apology or conscience. "She is a Lacey of Wideacre," her father once warned, "and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting." Yet no one could have expected the depths Beatrice's scheming could have produced.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

The first thing about this trilogy that I have to commend is the attention to detail that the author holds herself to. Ms. Gregory paints such a picture that you are able to see the land as she intended.

From the beginning  Beatrice is described as someone who is very spoiled (although I think it would be safe to say she has several "father issues" going on). Given the times she was born to, it is obvious Beatrice was raised as a Squire, not as a young lady, which only goes to hurt her later on.

On the positive side: Beatrice's determination to stay on the land in which wshe was raised, and change it for the better, is admirable considering the times. So much so, that you actually feel sorry for her at the callous way she is pushed to the side upon her brother Harry's return.

This feeling continues on for the first part of the book, it seems unfair the way Beatrice is treated after all she has done for the estate to help it prosper over the years , given the fact that to them she is "only a woman" and therefore "does not exist".

As the story progresses however, anything admirable about Beatrice is lost as it becomes clear that there is absolutely nothing she won't do to keep herself on the Estate, and to put her son in the Squire's chair. She truly thinks of nothing but herself and her precious land. Even when a man comes into her life that truly loves her and would give her anything (even staying with her on the Estate instead of forcing her to move), she cannot see past the tangled web of lies she has carefully constructed. Its obvious she cares for this man, she perhaps even loves him in her own way, but she is still unfaithful, and her deceit brings nothing but more pain, and she carelessly throws away her husband's reputation, as well as their marriage, to keep her secrets buried.

Her son Richard, becomes the most important thing to her. When she thought she was going to lose him, you do get a glimpse of the human woman inside of her. Her fear is palpable, and you can't help but hope her son makes it. Until it becomes clear that while she is worried about her son's life, she is also fearful that should he die all of her scheming and hard work will have been for nothing.

She destroys the land, selling off crops out of state, mortgaging land, and turning her people against her and her family with the goal of leaving Wideacre to her son. In the end, she manages it, but due to her plotting, she leaves him little more than a worthless estate, and a ruined name.

The ending was more that fitting, tying up a lot of loose ends while leaving it wide open for the story to continue (as it does in The Favored Child - review coming soon).

                   Wideacre is available for purchase from Amazon.com by clicking HERE.

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