WIDEACRE by Philippa Gregory

PUBLISHING INFO: Pocket Books, 1987
GENRE: Historical Fiction
SETTING: England, 1700's
SERIES: Wideacre, book 1 of 3
NARRATION: First person
MY GRADE: A+

From Publisher: She lived in an 18th-century England where women were forbidden to inherit wealth or land. But Beatrice Lacev was an extraordinary woman. Tempestuous, cunning and beautiful, she would seduce, betray, deceive, destroy to possess Wideacre. In the lush, dramatic tradition of GONE WITH THE WIND, WIDEACRE plunges us into a world of splendor and tragedy, of wickedness and obsession. Filled with vivid, compelling characters, here is a tale of a rich, fascinating time; the unforgettable story of a fateful love; the brilliant, spellbinding saga of a woman ruled by neither law nor man... a woman who lived to the fullest, wildest call of her own unbridled passions.

SEMI-SPOILER SUMMARY: This book begins with 14 year old Beatrice who lives at Wideacre in England. It's told in the first person.

She and her lover Ralph began their sexual relationship when she was fourteen. For her 15th birthday, he gave her a little owl figurine. That owl will come back to haunt her later on.....

That same year, they came up with a plan to kill Beatrice's father so that all of his property, money and all that will then become her older brother Harry's. They then planned to bankrupt Harry some way so that Wideacre would become Beatrice's. She loves Wideacre much more than Harry and wants to own it. Ralph later tells Beatrice that he want's to marry her, but she doesn't want to ever be married. The next morning, Beatrice decides that she couldn't go through with murdering her father. She rushed to the home he shares with this mother to tell him to NOT kill her father, but Ralph was already gone. Later on, her father was brought home dead. Ralph had smashed him in the head with something. Beatrice pretended that she was happy but secretly she was furious and planned to pay Ralph back somehow......

One day she came up with a plan. She set up an animal trap outside near his home. She knew if a human got caught in it, they'd lose their leg/legs. One day as she was leaving Ralph's, she yelled his name in hopes he'd come running. Sure enought, he came running to see what was wrong and walked right into the trap, pun intended. Ralph didn't see Beatrice at all while he was in the trap but he knew she'd planned it. Months went by with no word about what had happened to Ralph. He just up and disappeared with this mother, horse and two dogs. Beatrice lived in fear everyday knowing he'd show up again one day to get revenge on her.

Soon after that incident, she began an incestious relationship with her blonde haired brother Harry, who was one year older. Harry began to date a girl named Celia. That made Beatrice very jealous because Wideacre would become Celia's when she married Harry.

Celia asked Beatrice to come with her and Harry to 'Europe' after they got married, to keep her company. Beatrice agreed because she planned to continue her affair with Harry even though he was married. So that's what happened. They continued to have sex with each other every night, with Celia none the wiser. Harry even had sex with Beatrice on the night he 'deflowered' his wife. Beatrice soon after realized she was pregnant by Harry. She came up with yet another plan. She told Celia she was pregnant, but didn't say who the father was, and said that Celia could pass the baby off as her own. Harry went back home to England to see their sick mother, so while he was away, he'd never know that Celia wasn't really pregnant. He'd never know too that Beatrice was pregnant. The joke would really be on him, the fool. Beatrice's excuse for not traveling home to Wideacre with Harry to see their mother was that she just got too sea sick to travel if she didn't have to. So while Harry was away, Beatrice gave birth to Julia and gave her to Celia to raise as her own. Beatrice and Harry's relationship continued on and Beatrice got pregnant AGAIN, the moron.

She started dating a man named John MacAdams. He wanted to marry her but she didn't want marriage, since it would take her away from Wideacre, which she was completely obsessed with; had been her entire life. She lives for the day she'll own it, but that's not likely to happen (or is it?) since Harry is still in the picture. When she discovered she was pregnant again by Harry, she told Celia that she could have that baby too and raise it as her own, with only the two of them knowing it wasn't really hers. Celia was scared of the marriage bed and rarely had sex with Harry. That's why she wasn't getting pregnant on her own. Celia told her no, she couldn't lie to Harry again. Beatrice tried to abort the baby twice by taking some drug but it didn't work. Beatrice's deceiving mind came up with another genius plan; start having sex with John, even though she was five weeks pregnant, and make him believe he's the father. She gave birth to Richard. Weeks before, on her 19th birthday, she received a little package at her home that had been sent anonymously. Well, what do you know!, it was an owl figurine. No one but Ralph could have sent it. Before Ralph was born, she'd heard a rumor that the leader of a group of smugglers rode a black horse and had two dogs. She assumed then that it was Ralph. Someone then told her the unknown smuggler had grown up around Wideacre. She knew for sure that it was Ralph!

When Beatrice gave birth to Ralph, he husband John had been in Scotland. Being a doctor, he could see that Richard wasn't premature, like Beatrice had said. John confronted her about being pregnant when they married. She lied and told him that she'd been raped by the gang leader. That same night John confronted her, Harry kept pestering her to have sex with him. She gave in and while they were having sex on the floor, their mother walked in, saw them then passed out. They carried her to her room and Beatrice watched over her. John gave Beatrice a bottle of laudaum. He told her to give her mother four drops, no more, ever hour. After awhile, Celia came in to watch her mother-in-law so Beatrice could have a break. Beatrice LIED to Celia and told her to give her mother the entire vile of laudaum in thirty minutes. She wanted Celia to killer Beatrice's mother so that she couldn't tell Celia that she'd seen her and Harry having sex.

Beatrice went to check on her husband John. John was upset at being deceived by Beatrice about the pregnancy, so he'd been drinking a lot. He'd even thrown up on himself and the room was a mess. Beatrice wanted everyone to see the room the next day so that she can say John told her, in a drunken state, to give their mother the entire vile of medicine, thus blaming her mothers death on him. John had probably been drinking too because after Beatrice's mother came to after passing out, she kept yelling out, "Harry, Beatrice, NO!" John figured out something must have gone on with the two of them. Now because John may suspect their incestous relationship, Beatrice wants him dead. She's trying to destroy him with alcohol, since he'd got a drinking problem anyway. She's blaming John for their mothers death. She's using that as the reason for her dislike of him. Beatrice keeps supplying him with alcohol. John confronts her about it and she says this, "But I will never ban drink from where you are because I am content to watch you destroy yourself." Beatrice is trying to keep him drunk too so that she can have him committed to the nuthouse, making Harry power of attorney over John's money. Beatrice then plans to use John's money to buy Wideacre from their cousin Charles and to help pay all the legal fees of having Julia and Richard made join heirs of Wideacre, should Harry die.

________

For some unexplainable reason, my notes left off there. Strange. I think they got thrown away accidentally years ago. I'll have to pick up from there after I reread the book, then come back here and finish where I abruptly left off. This is one great novel! I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to turn each page. Beatrice is such an anti-heroine.



THE FAVORED CHILD by Philippa Gregory

This is the second book in the 'Wideacre' trilogy. It's about sibblings Beatrice and Harry's children Julia, the oldest, and Richard. Richard believes John MacAdams, his dead mothers widow, is his father. He thinks Julia is his cousin, raised by his uncle Harry and aunt Celia. But they are really full brother and sister.


The book starts by stating that Harry died of a weak heart two years after daughter Julia was born. Beatrice's widow John moved to India after her death.


When Julia was 12, she had a dream and a voice told her repeatedly, "The favored child, the favored child. She always was the favored child."


Her brother Richard, who she thinks is her cousin, was given a horse when he first learned to ride. Julia loved his horse and it made Richard extremely jealous every time Julia rode it. One day when Richard was 11, he was thrown from a horse and no one could find him. Dench (don't remember who he is) sent Julia out on Richard's horse to get help. Richard was very angry that Dench let her ride his horse, so he fired him. One night Richard came to Julia's room and told her he heard someone outside and that he thought it might have been Dench. The next day, they discovered that someone had purposely cut the back of Richard's favorite horses legs and the horse couldn't stand because of it. To put the horse out of its misery, Richard beat the horse in the head with something. He said Dench must have done it as revenge for being fired. What really happened was Richard injured his own horse because he was jealous of Julia's love for it. So the night before the horse was found, when Richard told Julia he thought he'd heard someone outside, he only did that to make the others think that person is the one who injured the horse.


When Julia was 16 and Richard was 15, Richard's 'father' John came back from India. He has plans to rebuild Wideacre and has hired Ralph Megson to be the manager. Ralph is the one Beatrice got to murder her father over 16 years before. Julia asked Ralph why he was the 'hero' of Wideacre. He told her he was the one who lead the villagers to Wideacre and he's the one who murdered Beatrice and that he had been Beatrice's lover. Julia kept that information to herself and told no one.


Richard ended up raping his cousin Julia (who's really his sister) one day and got her pregnant. He held her down, broke her wrist and threatened to strangle her and have his way with her anyway. They married in secret. Their parents found out she was pregnant by Richard then Richard confessed to marrying her a month before. Richard's father John then told them that they were brother and sister. At the time Julia was 17, Richard, 16. John and Celia went to have the marriage annuled and on the way there they were stopped by a highwayman and both were shot and killed.


When Julia was 7 months pregnant Richard gave her her mother's necklace and earrings, which had been stolen when they were killed. In that moment, Julia realized Richard had her parents killed to prevent them from having the marriage annuled. She knew then too that he'd murdered her friend Clary. He then told her he'd injured his own horse.


A few weeks before Julia's baby was due, she woke up one night to find Richard in bed with her. He told her that he'd almost strangled her and that he wanted her so that he could get her share of Wideacre. He told her then that he had, in fact, killed her friend Clary because she'd seen him rape Julia. He then told her about killing her parents. She told him she didn't believe him, just to make him angry. She wanted him to kill her to end her misery. He got mad because she didn't believe him and tried to strangle her. She went into labor. He left the room to get help. Julia gave birth to Sarah, rushed out of the house immediately afterward, when to the river to drown the baby. She saw a caravan of Gypsies and handed the baby to a woman, giving her a pearl neckless as payment for taking the baby.


When Julia got back home, Ralph was standing behind a sitting Richard, and had a knife to his throat. Julia told Ralph to 'do it', so Ralph slit Richard's throat.


And that's how this warped tale ended. The baby, Sarah is in the third book, Meridon. This book was alright; it's not nearly as good as the first in the series, 'Wideacre.'


THE LILY BRAND by Sandra Schwab

This is German author Sandra Schwab's first novel and is out of print. It was published by Leisure Books (Dorchester Publishing) in 2005.


Heroine is Lillian Marianne Abberley, 19, dark curly hair. The hero is Murgatroyd 'Troy' Sacheverell, mid to late 20's, auburn hair and 'cornflower' blue eyes. They are both from England. Troy was raised by his grandmother after his parents died.


PART 1- France, 1815.


Troy is a naval officer who has been taken prisoner after being shot in the leg. He is inprisoned with other men and chained to the wall in a cell. 'The Black Widow', Camille, showed up to pick out a new 'toy' for Lillian. She told the prison guard she was interested in Troy so he made him look up. Camille felt his crotch through his pants. She made Lillian feel it too. Camille told her to 'stroke it some' to see if it was in 'good working order.' Camille is Lillian's stepmother. Lillian's father is dead. Camille told the guard that they'd take Troy, clean him up, shave his beard and put him in the other carriage so they could take him home. They don't know his name.


They're at their home, Château du Marais. After dinner Lillian went to her bedroom. Troy was tied down onto some rack-like contraption and his head had been shaved, along with his face. He was nude except for a pair of golden breeches and gagged. That's what all of Camille's favorite male servants wear. Camille had two different whips. She wanted Lillian to see the difference between the two, so she whipped Troy with each one. Camille tells her that after one month, they will have to decide which is to go; his tongue or his 'balls.' Camille smacked Troy when he pulled away from her. She had Lillian go over to the fireplace and get out a wooden handled brand. She wanted Lillian to brand Troy anywhere she wants. She decides to brand him above his left nipple. She does it and the brand is in the design of a lily. Camille is excited, claps, blows her a kiss then leaves her alone in the room with him. Lillian has food brought in and feeds it to him after removing his gag.


The next morning at breakfast with Lillian, Camille has a male servant lay on the table so she can eat her food off of him and she also drips hot chocolate on him. Afterwards, Lillian goes for a walk on the property with Troy, who's got a leash around his neck. She ties him to a tree then goes into a grotto. Inside, she meets a boy who is to take her to a boat so she can escape Camille. She's paying him with jewels. She thinks about taking Troy with her so she goes back and gets him. The three of them leave in a cart that's pulled by two ponies. They haven't traveled far when Lillian makes the smuggler stop the cart so that Troy can get out. She unlocks his chains and leaves him there and continues on. She takes off her locket and throws it to him, since he doesn't have any money and can use it escape with. That locket has a picture of her dead parents in it. They arrive at a house where her old nanny Nanette lives. When Lillian's father died, Camille had Nanette sent away. Lillian changes her clothes then she and Nanette sail away to London to her grandfather's home.


PART II- London, 1816, about 6 months later.


Lillian is at a ball conversing with Alexander Markham, Viscount Perrin, blonde hair, blue eyes. He tells her his cousin (guess who) was wounded and taken prisoner a few months before he was to fight in the war. Alex begins to court Lillian. Later at another ball, he tells her his cousin is supposed to be there and wants her to meet him. Troy walks up to them and he and Lillian recognize each other. She passes out. Another day, Troy is talking with his cousin. Alex tells him he's already been to see Lillian that morning, to see how she's doing since last night. Troy yells at him, tells him not to marry that 'hussy'. Alex tells him he's crazy and leaves. Troy decides to pay Lillian a visit at a party that night, to try and get her to stay away from Alex. They're alone in a room together. He backs her against the wall, calls her a bitch, kisses her and bites her lip, making it bleed. He rips the front of her dress open and repeatedly calls her a bitch. A few people come to investigate and see them together. Troy leaves.


The next day, that incident is in the paper. Lillian's aunt Louisa is yelling, saying she's ruined and will have to marry him. She says she won't. Alex, Viscount Perrin arrives then. He tells her he's just read about what happened and wants to marry her. She turns him down. Troy, who's scared his cousin will want to marry her, decides to propose to her himself. She doesn't want to marry him but he tells her she needs to think about how the scandal will effect her family, so after telling him she's no longer a virgin, she says she'll marry him. They marry a week later and they, along with Nanette, travel to his country estate, Bair Hall. On the way there, they stay at an inn. Troy comes to her room. He calls her a bitch several times, kisses her and tells her to rub his c--k, which she does. He's clothed, on top of her. He feels sick, turns away from her, gets up and says, "You disgust me. God, how you disgust me." He leave the room.


Part III- Weeks later at Troys estate, they don't see each other much. Two of his friends, Drake and Justin, come to visit one day. They're out near the lake having a picnic together. One is laying his head in the others lap while he reads from a book. They kiss each other and Lillian, who was headed to that spot, see's them and stops. They spot her nearby and tell her to come over and join them. They chat then she leaves.


PART IV- Alex, Viscount Perrin goes to see Lillian at home. He calls her a 'doxy' and accused her of having an affair with Drake, Troy's friend. He tells her she's going to let him 'shag' her, puts his hand on her throat and says she's going to let him use her for his pleasure. She claws his face, drawing blood. She starts crying and leaves. Drake tells Troy that his cousin Alex is spreading rumors about him and Lillian. Drakes says that Troy and Lillian need to be seen together in public more and invites him to yet another party. At the party, Camille comes to see Lillian. She tells her she's heard she'd married now. She asks Lillian about her 'toy', meaning Troy. Lillian, trying to protect Troy, tells her that she left him tied to a tree before she ran away and that she could probably find his bones out there if she looked. Troy hears that and comes into the room. Camille doesn't recognize him at all. They chat a bit and Camille leaves. Troy and Lillian leave the party and in the carriage she's upset and crying. She says it's because Camille had brought her favorite servant Antoine. She tells him that years ago, Camille made Antoine rape her while she stood there watching and giving directions. Troy tells her he doesn't want to hear anymore. From then on, Troy understands her a bit more and has sympathy for her and doesn't hate her as much. Lillian tells him that she's scared that Camille will realize who he is and do something bad to him and she wants him to leave London. He says he isn't scared of Camille and he isn't going anywhere.


Lillian's life-long nanny and friend Nanette is killed after a church burns down. Soon after, Troy travels back to France to try to find Lillian's locket that he'd sold. He tracks it down then travels back home. Lillian isn't home when he arrives so he bathes. While getting dressed he walks back into his bedroom and Camille is laying on his bed. Her two men grab him. He struggles with them then gets hit in the head and passes out.


PART V- Lillian arrives back home. She's told Troy is back home so she goes to his bedroom and knocks. There is no answer so she lets herself in the room. The room is a mess and she see's blood on the white bedspread. Camille left a note saying to meet her in the forest. There is a bloody handkerchief.......with part of Troy's ear in it. She runs out of the room and tells the servants to find Drake and Justin and have them meet her in the forest with guns. Lillian gets to the forest. Camille and her two men are there with Troy tied to a tree. Lillian takes a gun out of her pocket, shoots and kills Camille. Drake and Justin show up and shoot the two men and untie Troy.


They get home, bathe then have sex for the first time. She tells Troy she loves him and he says he loves her too. He gives her the locket with her parents pictures in it and says, "I love you, my Lilly."


THE END!