48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Sensitive and haunting,
This review is from: The Favoured Child (Wideacre Trilogy 2) (Paperback)'The Favoured Child' is the second book of the Wideacre trilogy, told from the POV of Julia, Beatrice's daughter. Julia, of course, doesn't known this. She's grown up believing that she's the daughter of her Mama, but as she says: 'Those are the facts. But there is also the truth.'
The truth is something which people avoid in this book. Lies surround Julia, and her cousin Richard. It's obvious from the start that something is not quite right with Richard: he bullies Julia, and he takes pleasure in her pain and fright. Taught by her mother that he is a boy and therefore is right to take the lead, Julia accepts his behaviour throughout their childhood, until the day when she has to defend him from the village children, scrawny and tough and ready to beat up any Lacey thanks to Beatrice's devastation of the estate. Julia comes through victorious, and it's an instance in a series of incidents where people prefer her to Richard. Whenever this happens - be it even with an animal - Richard becomes very jealous and angry, a lot like his mother. One of them is the Favoured Child - the one who will be blessed with Beatrice's ability to make the land green again. Richard is determined that this will be him, and the silent struggle is a constant theme thoughout the book.
However, despite the long flashbacks, the book nominally opens when Julia is twelve, and John McAndrew is finally returning home after some ventures in the East. He has earned some money as a doctor and is ready to set up Wideacre Estate once more. Julia and Richard are joint heirs, but they are both encouraged to marry people other than each other. The estate starts to slowly blossom again - and Julia blossoms with it, but in unpredictable ways. The past invades the present, and to make matters even more complicated, Ralph turns up. This is a great connection to the first book, and it helps you to see the contrast between Julia and Beatrice. Julia is at once far more conventional and far more gentle. She is not as mature as Beatrice was, and is more concerned about what people think. Julia's dreams become very lifelike and frightening. She manages to save a family from being killed in a fire, and it is revealed that she has 'the Sight', that is, the ability to see into the future.
This causes Celia and John to have a crisis discussion: Julia already resembles Beatrice physically, is she turning into her mentally too? Richard takes full advantage of the situation, refuses to tell Julia whether he's on her side or not, and the result is that Julia is packed off to Bath to take the waters and see the eighteenth-century equivalent of a psychiatrist. She misses Wideacre desperately, despite meeting a lovely young man and making friends. Her return to Wideacre is joyous, but the joy is short-lived. Richard is threatened by her new-found happiness, and his actions destroy everything, just as Beatrice's did. In the end, Julia must make a difficult choice, trapped both by her blood and her circumstances.
This book is rhythmic and haunting. It is sensual, but not as much so as 'Wideacre', and the ending is far more tragic. It is far easier to like Julia and to feel pity for her predicament. She really does go through hell. Once again, at the end, you realise that the Laceys are not quite through yet, although Julia's story is very much done.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Sep 2008 22:19:20 BDT
Ms. A. R. Richardson says:
Werll I really don't need to read it now you have told me the whole plot.
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jun 2009 18:08:06 BDT
Well, I apologise, I was still new to reviewing when I wrote this.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Feb 2011 16:31:28 GMT
Sarah Powell says:
I don't think you have anything to apologise for - there are no spoilers in your review, only a good description of the characters and teasers for the plot. I'm midway through the book now, but couldn't help glancing through the reviews, and yours is one of the best!
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2011 20:26:12 BDT
Wow, thank you very much! That makes me feel a whole lot better. :)
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