The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My first experience with Meg Rosoff was her debut novel, How I Live Now, which had very stylized, literary prose and a fairly straight line plot through a virtual apocalypse. This book was different in almost every way. The main character, Pell, is the bride who runs away from her wedding, looking for freedom and adventure. She sets off across the countryside of England-on-the-cusp-of-industrialization. Once she's broken the bonds that have tied her down her whole life, though, the events that follow cause her to desperately seek to form them anew, but nothing will ever be as it once was.
I won't give spoilers, but I will say this, it is okay to keep reading. The first awful event made me squirm. It isn't gory or raunchy or anything like that, it's just so terribly sad. However Pell has one major advantage, and that is that this takes place in a Britain with a much smaller population than present day. Few who are lost are lost forever, and storylines fold back on themselves to bring new and surprising resolutions.
What Rosoff manages to achieve, which is no small feat, is an ending that satisfies without being trite, neat, or fanciful, and that's why I gave this five stars. It's not as tightly plotted as the books I usually devour, and it's the sort of book that will make you feel uneasy if you put it down partway through, but once at the end, all feels settled, even if it didn't all turn well for everyone.