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Wideacre Books In Order

Publication Order of Wideacre Books

Wideacre (1987) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Favoured Child (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Meridon (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Wideacre is a series of historical fiction novels written by Philippa Gregory. The books follow the exploits of a family whose obsession with a grand estate destroys them.

+The Story
The Wideacre novels are quite controversial. Some people love them. Some people hate them. But everyone who has read them has strong feelings about them, and for good reason.

Philipa Gregory delves into some rather disturbing waters as she brings the lives of the Lacey family to her readers.

The Wideacre series takes place in the second half of the 18th Century, and it initially kicks off with the story of Beatrice Lacey. When readers first meet her, Beatrice is a relatively normal girl, the daughter of the squire of an estate called Wideacre.

Beatrice clearly loves her father but she is even more devoted to the state of Wideacre. And even as a child, she is determined to live and die on the patch of land. Her dreams begin to shatter when she turns 11 and learns that her brother Harry is poised to inherit the land once her father passes.

Harry is not only unintelligent but also ever absent. He also doesn’t care about Wideacre and is only positioned to inherit the estate because he’s a man and Beatrice is a woman. The injustice of it all drives Beatrice up the wall and she makes it her mission in life to bring Wideacre under her direct control.

The Wideacre series is not necessarily Beatrice’s story. In fact, her presence is primarily restricted to the first novel. However, the character has such a powerful effect on the Wideacre estate and every life she touches that her presence continues to hover all the novels in this series.

Beatrice is the match which lights the fire that eventually burns the entire Lacey family to the ground. The Wideacre books chronicle her rise and eventual downfall.

At first, the heroine is actually quite sympathetic. She lives in an era that subjugates women and refuses to see her as anything more than a breeding ground. And when Beatrice first makes her intentions to fight for Wideacre known, she does so as a reaction to the fear that she might soon be homeless, pushed out of her beloved Wideacre and forced to cater to the whims of some strange man to whom her dense brother decided to marry her.

Over time, Beatrice develops an obsession with the Wideacre estate. She learns to view it as a living, breathing organism of which only she has true ownership. This development makes Beatrice cruel and conniving, and she goes to great lengths to secure her control over her beloved home, showing no qualms about crossing every line and breaking every taboo.

Along the way, Beatrice sweeps a lot of characters into her orbit. There’s Harry, her older brother who is sexually attracted to Beatrice. His weak and timid personality make him an easy target for Beatrice who encounters no true resistance in her efforts to manipulate him for her own personal gain.

Then there’s Ralph, the gamekeeper’s son who Beatrice fell for when she was little more than a child. Ralph and Beatrice were supposed to join forces to usurp Harry’s control over the estate.

And for a time, Beatrice truly loved Ralph. But her greed eventually gets in the way and, in Ralph, Beatrice creates a deadly enemy.

Even more impactful to the story than Ralph, though, is John MacAndrew, a brilliant doctor who falls for Beatrice at the height of her fight to gain control of the Wideacre estate. John falls in love with Beatrice, unaware of the evil residing within her beating heart.

Beatrice and John’s stories intertwine with Celia Lacey’s destiny. Celia was the girl next door that Harry fell for at the start of the series. When she eventually decides to marry him, she doesn’t know that she is making a lifelong enemy in Beatrice.

Along with Richard and Julia, the Lacey clan are a demented bunch. Beatrice is like a virus that infects them all. And before long, they are lying, cheating, committing murder and engaging in incest all for the sake of a dream to secure Wideacre that Beatrice birthed.

A lot of people struggle with the Wideacre series because most of its protagonists are terrible human beings, and yet the author expects readers to root for them. Some people have gone so far as to say that they couldn’t finish the first novel and chose not to read the other books in the trilogy simply because they could not stand to watch Beatrice and her kin get away with so much evil.

But even those harshest critics of the author’s dark-hearted characters commend Philippa Gregory for her incredible writing style.

+The Author
Philippa Gregory is a renowned English author that was born in 1954 in Nairobi, Kenya. She first came to fame as an established historian. The research she did on periods like the Tudor era eventually inspired her to produce historical fiction. Her first novels were the bestselling Wideacre books.

+Wideacre
Beatrice Lacey is willful and beautiful, and she has a keen mind. Unfortunately, society in the 18th Century expects her to wed, birth children and then care for her family. But Beatrice refuses to conform to society’s expectations.

And she has no interest in taking the marriage route, not when it means losing her beloved Wideacre, the estate to which she was introduced as a child and then promised to protect it to her dying day.

But being a woman means that Beatrice can never inherit Wideacre, not when her dense brother Harry is still in the picture. Of course, Beatrice has no intention of playing by the rules.

There is no one she won’t betray, no life she won’t take to get what she wants.

+The Favored Child
Beatrice fought hard to protect her claim over Wideacre and, as a result, she lost everything. The Estate is in ruin and mostly bankrupt. But the story of the Laceys is far from over.

Not far from Wideacre is a family with two children each of whom has an equivalent claim on the estate. These two children will reignite the spark that sent Beatrice off the deep end.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Wideacre