Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

Beatrice Lacey refuses to conform to the constraints of eighteenth century society. Her father sets her on his horse at age four and so begins her love affair with the land her family has held since the Norman Conquest. She’s thorough in her passions and lives heartily and fast, until her scheming catches up with her. For Beatrice is in love with the Squire of Wideacre, whoever it may be, and she will stop at nothing to have Wideacre for her own, no matter who or what her love destroys in her passion to possess it. Rife with history, incest, and passion, Wideacre is a heady, break-neck read, especially for such a long novel (nearly six hundred and fifty pages), with addicting, complex characters and the vibrancy of Wideacre itself pulsating between its pages.

As in the video posted earlier, Philippa Gregory wrote Wideacre for fun, reading 200 eighteenth century novels in the course of her research. She says it was a wonderful experience, though it took nearly four years, because the eighteenth century saw the novel developed as a form and what better way to learn than looking at the template for the modern novel?

I made a list of popular eighteenth century writers and novels in class Monday night =) and here’s a few. Feel free to add to this list or comment on any of the items listed.
  • Moll Flanders
  • The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  • Voltaire
  • Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne
  • Rousseau
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Pamela by Richardson (after the first hundred pages you will want to smack her)
  • Ann Radcliffe
  • Jonathon Swift – Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal (eat the babies)
And because Jonathon Swift's humor in A Modest Proposal just cracks me up, you, dear reader, get a video to accompany it.


Rowenna said...

Some of my favorites are French...but I love Therese Philosophe by Boyer d'Argens (um, this one comes with a warning label) and Liasons Dangereuses--such a cool epistolary novel.

And, since they were all into reading classics then, the ancient Roman novel The Golden Ass. Seriously, a couple millenia old and still an awesome book.