Ok, after reading two other Meg Rosoff titles recently, one thing I could predict before picking up this book, with absolute certainty, is that it would be completely, resolutely unpredictable.
Which I LOVE, by the way.
Our young heroine, Pell Ridley, escapes her family home on the eve of her wedding, taking only her horse and tag-along pseudo-sibling, Bean. Together, they head towards the unknown, where no-one, neither the characters, or the reader, have any clue, where they might be headed and what will occur along the way.
If this was a more conventional read, then maybe Pell would come a cropper in the big bad world, realise there's 'no place like home', and return to her well-suited and devoted fiancee.
But, being Meg Rosoff, I should know better than to underestimate the strength and individuality of her core character. Pell is essentially clueless, she has no idea what she wants, maybe a clearer notion of what she doesn't want. But her character develops when she reacts to the circumstances she finds herself and I became enthralled by her stubbornness and determination.
I was transported back to A-level English Literature, transfixed by 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles', and this book definitely has haunting Hardy-esque undertones - the English countryside becomes a character in it's own right, sweeping Pell along in all it's ethereal beauty. Is Pell as tragic a figure as Tess? Well, you'll have to read it for yourself.
And just with 'How I Live Now', Rosoff not only handles the romance, but again manages to squeeze your heart strings until they're at breaking point.
If I was looking for any negatives, I suppose it didn't immediately grab hold of me as was the case with 'What I Was' and 'How I Live Now'. But this is a different beast entirely, commanding more from you as a reader, but rewarding you with so much more in return.
Let's just say, I will be ordering every one of her books in a pristine hardcover a giving them pride of place on my shelf. EXQUISITE.
And, the Hardy comparison is a fair one, by the way.