The Wideacre Trilogy, books 2 and 3

It's been a couple of weeks since I finished these books and even now looking back on them, it's still easy to immerse myself in the story.  After I finished the first book, simply titled Wideacre, I was keen to get started on the next one.  I already told you that I read the start of the second book hungrily, trying to work out who was the lead character, and let me just say that book 2 - The Favoured Child was just as good.

As you'd expect it picks up the story from before but this time focuses on the two Lacey children and only one of them can be the favoured child, but which one is it?

Photo by  Prasanna Kumar  on  Unsplash

Following the fire at Wideacre the remaining family live elsewhere on the estate and although the children believe themselves to be cousins, are brought up more like siblings. The cousin/sibling thing is important, and each of the children have similarities to their Lacey parents and you can feel life repeating itself, as it so often does.

There's friendship, loyalty, love, heartbreak, deception and sheer bloodymindedness in this book which once again I couldn't put down.  Towards the end of the book, the introduction piece becomes clearer and you have to wonder how and where it will all end.

Meridon, the final chapter

Once again I broke my rule of paying for kindle books, and immediately started on the final book. I was in for a surprise though as the setting was completely different and Meridon, the central character is a gypsy girl. 

This book was no less compelling, but it felt a bit left field, even though there were clear likenesses to the strong female characters in the previous book - red hair and riding skills.  I wasn't sure how this related to the story, but carried on reading as you've probably already realised I was hooked.

The plot turns and Meridon arrives in Wideacre, a place that's familiar to her even though she's never been there before. I found this part the most far fetched part of the books but I also recognised that the author needed to connect the stories.  

At times too, it felt like the main character was going to fizzle out - and maybe she does, or maybe not, that would be telling wouldn't it?

For me the story picked up again and even though I was willing her to make different choices, she didn't always!  

I'm still in that book hangover period where I can't quite manage to start another book as I'm still pondering what I might have done differently, either writing the book or as the main character. I haven't come up with anything concrete, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series, and who knows, maybe the next book(s) I read will be just as compelling - but let's hope they don't all make me break my low-spend rule!

Have you read the Wideacre trilogy by Philippa Gregory?

What I've read lately: The Wideacre Trilogy, Philippa Gregory

Well that's not entirely true. I've just started the second book, and I'm hoping it will have me hooked as much as part one. That was simply titled, Wideacre, and was one of those books that kept my interest throughout; I was so keen to make progress that I'd dip into it even if I had five minutes to spare. That gave me comfort, which was odd really as after a short reading burst like this I'd often find myself re-reading a section. I was keen to make progress, but wanted to savour the story and not miss anything that would give me a clue to the ending. 

Photo credit: Photo by  Tom Hermans  on  Unsplash

Photo credit: Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

I anticipated a bit of a reading fest while we were away, but it didn't quite work out that way. I did finish a book - The Pie Life - I'd been reading on my phone, and then Wideacre took over.  I thought the book that had me hooked was a long one at 646 pages, but I've just checked and it was only half the length of The Pie Life, so maybe that's why that one took me a while to get through. 

But back to Wideacre...

I like books with strong female characters, and Wideacre certainly has that with Miss Beatrice; she loves the Wideacre Estate and is devastated by her inability to inherit it, with it instead going to her younger brother. She knows the land and is heralded as the greatest farmer around. Set in Georgian England she fights and plots to ensure her bloodline inherits.  It's a gripping tale with plenty of well thought out characters, as you'd expect from one of Philippa Gregory's books. I've read her Tudor novels - and they get the same treatment from me - so I was pleased this also had me gripped.

There's dark secrets at Wideacre and as the first of the trilogy as you'd expect there are at least a couple of loose ends.  Beatrice does marry, and that adds further intrigue to the story, and my one criticism of the book is shortly after her marriage she celebrates her nineteenth birthday. I'd assumed by the time she married she was much older, and so I found myself skipping backwards to double-check it wasn't a mistake. It wasn't - of course - but I'd have liked a bit more of a clue to her age before that.

The second book starts, as you'd expect, with a piece that sets the scene and already I can't help but think there'll be similarities in the plot. I found myself reading this chapter hungrily, wanting to know whose voice it was.  I've learnt who, and I'm not going to share that, but I am going to recommend this series.

And to give you an idea of how much I wanted to continue the story, I've broken my own rule and paid £3.99 for the second book so I can continue the momentum!  I make no apology for getting my head stuck in a book, e-book or what, there's nothing like a good story, is there?

What I've read lately: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

You'll remember that I had a new book delivered recently, and that it came with a miniature of Southern Comfort - which as first impressions go is a pretty good one.  I hoped that I'd reach the part of the book that needed a stiff drink at an appropriate time, and so far I've not needed to pour myself a drink, well not yet anyway.

The other thing that struck me about this book when it arrived was its size. It's on the larger side of the paperbacks and is quite thick too, and I think initially this put me off.  It does fit into my handbag, but with a driving commute I've found it hard to really get into this book.  What I have read has been good and I want to carry on reading it, but for me this will be a slower read than the books I've read recently.  I'm not sure why, but I know I want to understand the story.

Unusually the front cover doesn't include the book's title, but instead "The hunt for Edith Hind starts here" is given prominence with the title relegated to the spine and the rear cover.  I found this confusing initially too - I've a simple mind, clearly - and while I like the cover image, I think I prefer to have the title there in its more traditional place.

I think one of the reasons I've struggled to really get into this book is that it shares a main character - Edith - with the listening book I have in the car. Both are young adults approaching marriage but their lives couldn't be more different. Edith, in this book is reported missing and once you get to this part the title of the book is obvious.  I think the vast difference between the two Edith's lives have also hindered my ability to become immersed in this story.

It's well written and I think I will enjoy the story, I've heard that others have said they'd read this in a couple of days. Right now this book hasn't grabbed me and got me hooked, but I'm more than willing for that to happen. 

As usual I won't share the ending of the book, usually that's to avoid spoiling the story, but in this case it's because I really don't know what that'll be.  I know this sounds like a negative review of the book, but I don't mean for it to be. I'm going to continue to read this book because already I care about some of the characters - Manon, the detective on the case who it seems is unlucky in love but is clear that the first 72 hours in a case are crucial, and Miriam, Edith's mother who early in the book lifts the Le Creuset onto the draining board and wonders why people rave about them when they are almost un-lift-able - and because I want to know more of what happened.  

And if I'll need that Southern Comfort.

Update:  As I thought, a train ride to and from Birmingham last Saturday was a good opportunity to spend some time with this book.  There was a twist that you expect from thriller books and at one point I considered part of it.  Not the other though.  

I hadn't remembered to take the miniature of Southern Comfort with me, so I've still got that for another day!  It is a good book - and once I'd got into it, I wanted to finish it.  I didn't quite manage that on my journey back, but while MOH cooked dinner that night I put my nose back into the book and finished it.  

Thanks to Mumsnet and Borough Press for providing  a copy of Missing, Presumed in return for an honest review.