The Favoured Child by Philippa Gregory
After reading the first novel in this trilogy, Wideacre, I was keen to finish the series of books after how much I enjoyed it. I read this novel extremely quickly due to the fact I was stuck in a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur… but in a way this enabled me to appreciate the novel in its entirety more instead of reading it in dribs and drabs which often happens with my reading due to having other things on my agenda.
The book follows Julia and Richard Lacey, the children of the incestuous coupling of Beatrice and Harry Lacey but the children are ignorant of their parentage. The book is from the point of view of the character Julia, who believes Celia is her mother and Richard is her cousin. They have lived their entire lives in a dower house with Celia while Richards ‘father’, John, is away in India. It is quickly established that Richard is bullying Julia in order to control her but she allows it because she loves him and is in the belief that he loves her to and she only wants the best for him. Richard is set on the fact he will be Squire and ruler of Wideacre in the future even though the local village and the old estate is burnt down.
When John eventually returns from India, he lights up the household and he sets out to restore Wideacre and make it productive again. he hires Ralph Megson, unaware of who he is, and together they start to rebuild the estate.
As the two children grow, a void starts to develop between them. Julia is beloved by the villagers, has an unusual ability to understand the land and make it grow for her, and as she grows, she discovers she has inherited the gift of ‘the sight’ and the villagers tell Julia that a legend says either her or Richard will be ‘The Favoured Child’ with the ability to make the land grow for them. Richard, on the other hand, is clearly a greedy and malicious child. We get a very direct taste into Richard’s nature when he receives the gift of a horse and he clearly has no gift for riding. On the contrary, he is scared of the horse and the horse is unnaturally terrified of him. His abuse of his relationship with Julia gets worse progressively through the book and the children’s secret betrothal makes the progression of the novel quite ominous as reader’s of Wideacre will be able to guess at what is coming.
I won’t put any spoilers here but suffice to say this book is similar in its shocking nature as Wideacre although it is unfortunately somewhat predictable if still enjoyable. Although I liked Julia as the narrator and as a character, I found myself continuously wishing she would show some damned backbone and bite back. She does show more strength towards the end of the novel but it takes so damned long its very frustrating.
This was a good but frustrating read. It takes far too long for Julia to show a backbone and the plot is a tad overly predictable and a bit too much like its predecessor, Wideacre for my taste. Unfortunately not Gregory at her very best.
- Book Review: ‘The Queen’s Fool’ by Philippa Gregory (beingbryonyisabella.wordpress.com)
- Not one of her best – Philippa Gregory – Earthly Joys (rottenbooks.wordpress.com)