Penulis/Author: Philippa Gregory (1987)
Cetakan/Edition: Sunday Star-Times/Whitcoulls Best Summer Reads, 2006
A woman and her beauty is influential. A woman, her beauty plus a brain is certainly a deadly combination to be worshipped as well as to gain power, to manipulate even to destroy.
Wideacre may just be a farm estate with fertile land and loyal worker. For Beatrice Lacey, Wideacre is the air she breathes in, the land she plays on, and the produces that feed her. It’s a total shock for her when she learns that the land belongs to the Squire’s son as the heir, not hers, not the daughter. In the 18th century, woman has no rights on land no matter how attached she was to it.
Beatrice’s love for Wideacre goes beyond her entitlement. The pure and innocent love she shows to her papa and the land, are much deeper than what it seems on the surface. Her sweet nature is blinded by hatred when she realised the land will go to Harry, her brother, and her adoring eyes to her papa changed into rage as he slowly put more attention to ‘the heir’.
It’s always pleasing to read a story from the old centuries where people were attached to their lands, the riches dressed up for dinner, when freedom was associated with borderless land, and everything was mixed in a wonderful blend. These centuries seem faraway yet the charms cannot be ignored, they are too magical for me. I could almost touch the modest beauty of Wideacre through Beatrice’s extreme love, which the author has splendidly elaborated. This novel is beautifully written and utterly provocative.
Transforming from a lively (and lovely) young girl to a determined young woman, Beatrice does whatever it takes to keep Wideacre. This isn’t about family or laborers, this is about her and her land. She commits every sin ever invented, first by accident, later by will power as soon as the poison gives her the courage. Her hands are filthy with blood including her own parents’, she seduced her brothers through her sensuality and his weakness for masochism, she ruins the genuine love from her husband and rips him off from his wealth, and worse… she oppress and betrays her people and sends them to famine. All those for the land, for her and Wideacre.
Love can make us stupid things, but Beatrice’s love for Wideacre is wild, sinful and deadly. Not only she kills everyone around her through hate, she kills herself through blatant greed. Who would thought the adorable Miss Beatrice is actually the curse for Wideacre? Her hands and heart carry too much blood. Surely, she would know that she can’t keep a dead fish for too long.