‘A deft revisioning of the historical romance tradition for a young 21st century readership’ – Meg Rosoff: The Bride’s Farewell

meg rosoff bride farewellMeg Rosoff’s debut novel How I Live Now exploded onto the literary scene in 2004, winning both the Guardian and Branford Boase awards, and achieving a place on the shortlist for the Orange Prize for New Fiction and the Whitbread award. Since then, Rosoff has become well-established in the field of young adult and crossover fiction, winning widespread critical acclaim as well as the prestigious Carnegie medal for her second novel, Just in Case. However, her newest novel marks a perceptible move away from her usual territory: The Bride’s Farewell is a historical novel, set in the nineteenth century and rife with allusions to the Hardyesque rural romance.

On the morning of her wedding to childhood friend Birdie, feisty village girl Pell decides to leave her family and home behind her forever in search of freedom and independence. Determined to escape a future of childbearing, drudgery and sorrow, she makes for the open road, accompanied only by her white horse Jack and her youngest brother Bean. Yet away from the safety of the village, trouble soon strikes, and without anywhere else to turn, Pell falls into the company of a mysterious and solitary hunter, unsure whether he will prove a friend or foe.

What happens next is perhaps not exactly surprising and indeed, in many ways, The Bride’s Farewell is a rather more conventional young adult novel than we have come to expect from Rosoff. However, there are nonetheless plenty of twists and turns in store: brooding rural landscapes aside, this is an unpredictable, quirky and distinctly contemporary take on the rural romance tradition. Pell is a likable and engaging heroine, and this compelling tale of her search to discover her identity and a place to belong has a particularly timeless quality that is likely to strike a chord with Rosoff’s young fans.

Any Cop?:A deft revisioning of the historical romance tradition for a young 21st century readership, The Bride’s Farewell is a gracefully written and genuinely engrossing read. 

Katherine Woodfine

 

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3 comments

  1. Do you think every book set in the past is a historical romance? The same with Small Wars – A Historical Romance? Way off the mark, bookmunch. How many romances feature waterboarding? A little more rigour please!

    • Was going to say something along the lines of ‘The views expressed in these reviews are the views of the reviewer in question’ – which is about as good an answer as I have because I haven’t personally read either of the books in question… I would say, though, that if a book features a relationship (which I think both books do) in a historical context then they are a historical romance. The reviewer didn’t cap the R of romance so I think ‘an historical romance’ is slightly different from ‘Historical Romance’… But then that could just be me…

  2. Well put bookmunch. As far as I’m concerned, if a romantic relationship is the focus of a novel, and it’s set in the past, then it’s fair enough to talk about it as a historical romance novel. Furthermore, from my personal perspective, I would say both Rosoff and Jones (but Rosoff in particular) are drawing on the traditions and conventions of the romantic novel genre in these books, though they utilise these in very different ways and to very different ends.

    And just to be clear, we’re talking about romantic fiction here, not the ‘romance’ tradition of Malory et al. Definitely no dragons or knights to be found in either of these books I’m afraid.

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