I have just finished an amazing book.
It is part fairy tale, part love story. It is a cross between Charles Dickens and Lemony Snicket. It is part Brothers Grimm and part historical melodrama.
In other words, it is unclassifiable.
I am speaking of The Bride’s Farewell, the new novel by the New York Bestselling, Carnigie Award Winning author Meg Rosoff. This is her fourth novel for young adults, but even there I would say that genre does not suit her.
Meg’s novels are for young adults in that they feature a younger cast of characters. But the themes her books deal with are much more adult; incredibly darker and moodier than most juvenile fiction published today.
Her first novel, How I Live Now, featured a young girl and her cousin that have survived a bombing in a future not unlike ours; and fell in love. Her second novel, Just In Case, concerns a boy who, to escape Fate, reinvents himself; he even imagines an invisible dog for himself that other people can see. Her third novel, What I Was, can be described as a boarding house love story between two boys.
Quite obviously, Meg Rosoff never writes the same book twice.
I was eagerly awaiting to see what Meg Rosoff would give us with The Bride’s Farewell. I wondered what the setting would be. In Rosoff’s novels, the characters and the place around them play equally important roles.
She is a beautiful storyteller. For me, she seems to have written each of her books carefully, choosing each word so that it feels right. Though her books may be short in length (each of her four novels are around the 200 something page count), the emotion and the power in her novels makes the books feel stronger, somehow; more vibrant.
I’m always a little nervous when I begin a Meg Rosoff novel. Since no two stories are the same, I wonder where she is going to take me; what story she is going to tell. Her novels remind me of the novel in verse books written by Ellen Hopkins. Though Rosoff writes in prose, her books mirror Hopkins’ in that they always present us with stories that are engaging, beautifully written and emotionally charged. And each time you open one of their novels you wonder where you are going to end up.
When I read a Meg Rosoff novel, I treat the book as if I am pursuing a gem. So clearly I had high expectations for The Bride’s Farewell. Meg Rosoff’s new novel has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2009.
I am delighted to say that I was not disappointed in the least.
Quite the contrary, in fact. I think that The Bride’s Farewell is Rosoff’s best book to date. It concerns sixteen year old Pell Ridley who runs away from her home on her wedding day in the year of eighteen hundred and fifty something.
She leaves home with only her horse Jack and her brother Bean, a boy who does not speak. What she returns with is so much more.
I won’t say any more of the plot then that, only to say that you should experience the story as I did. Meg Rosoff writes novels that are not just merely read; they are explored. Each page brings you deeper into the story of Pell and what happens to her that, by the end, you will never want to leave her world.
Ultimately, The Brides Farewell is really about three things: It is about family and courage. And the incredible power of love.
Through stunning words, vivid imagery, Meg Rosoff has given us a delightful historical novel that reminds us of something important.
She reminds us that we cannot get where we are going, if we do not remember where we came from.
Though the book may seem grim at times, The Bride’s Farewell is ultimately a joyous novel about the search for who we are and the happiness we find at discovering our place in the world.