Meridon knows she does not belong in the dirty, vagabond life of a gypsy bareback rider. The half-remembered vision of another life burns in her heart, even as her beloved sister, Dandy, risks everything for their future. Alone, Meridon follows the urgings of her dream, riding in the moonlight past the rusted gates, up the winding drive to a house -- clutching the golden clasp of the necklace that was her birthright -- home at last to Wideacre. The lost heir of one of England's great estates would take her place as its mistress....
Crowning the extraordinary trilogy that began with Wideacre and The Favored Child, Meridon is a rich, impassioned tapestry of a young woman's journey from dreams to glittering drawing rooms and elaborate deceits...from a simple hope to a deep and fulfilling love. Set in the savage contrasts of Georgian England -- a time alive with treachery, grandeur, and intrigue
With this elaborate tapestry of a young woman's life, the Lacey family trilogy ( Wideacre and The Favored Child ) comes to a satisfying conclusion. Meridon is the lost child whose legacy is the estate of Wideacre. She and her very different sister, Dandy, were abandoned as infants and raised in a gypsy encampment, learning horsetrading and other tricks of survival. They are indentured to a circus master whose traveling show is made successful by Meridon's equestrian flair and Dandy's seductive beauty on the trapeze. Meridon's escape from this world is fueled by pregnant Dandy's murder and her own obsessive dream of her ancestral home. After claiming Wideacre, Meridon succumbs for a while to the temptation of the "quality" social scene, but eventually she comes to her senses, and, in a tricky card game near the end of the saga, triumphs fully. The hard-won homecoming in this historical novel is richly developed and impassioned. Doubleday Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Meridon by Philippa Gregory
I don't belong here," I said to myself, before I even opened my eyes.
It was my morning ritual. To ward off the smell and the dirt and the fights and the noise of the day. To keep me in that bright green place in my mind, which had no proper name; I called it "Wide."
"I don't belong here," I said again. A dirty-faced fifteen-year-old girl frowsy-eyed from sleep, blinking at the hard gray light filtering through the grimy window. I looked up to the arched ceiling of the caravan, the damp sacking near my face as I lay on the top bunk; and then I glanced quickly to my left to the other bunk to see if Dandy was awake.
Dandy: my black-eyed black-haired, equally dirty-faced sister. Dandy, the lazy one, the liar, the thief.
Her eyes, dark as blackberries, twinkled at me.
"I don't belong here," I whispered once more to the dream world of Wide, which faded even as I called to it. Then I said aloud to Dandy:
"Did you dream of it -- Sarah?" she asked softly, calling me by my magic secret name. The name I knew from my dreams of Wide. The magic name I use in that magic land.
"Yes," I said, and I turned my face away from her to the stained wall and tried not to mind that Wide was just a dream and a pretense. That the real world was here. Here where they knew nothing of Wide, had never even heard of such a place. Where, except for Dandy, they would not call me Sarah as I had once asked. They had laughed at me and gone on calling me by my real name, Meridon.
"What did you dream?" Dandy probed. She was not cruel, but she was too curious to spare me.
"I dreamed I had a father, a great big fair-headed man and he lifted me up. High, high up onto his horse. And I rode before him, down a lane away from our house and past some fields. Then up a path which went higher and higher, and through a wood and out to the very top of the fields, and he pointed his horse to look back down the way we had come, and I saw our house: a lovely square yellow house, small as a toy-house on the green below us."
"Go on," said Dandy.
"Shut up, you two," a muffled voice growled in the half-light of the caravan. "It's still night."
"It ain't," I said, instantly argumentative. My father's dark, tousled head peered around the head of his bunk and scowled at me. "I'll strap you," he warned me. "Go to sleep."
I said not another word. Dandy waited, and in a few moments she said in a whisper so soft that our Da -- his head buried beneath the dirty blankets -- could not hear: "What then?"
"We rode home," I said, screwing my eyes tight to relive the vision of the little redheaded girl and the fair man and the great horse and the cool green of the arching beech trees over the drive. "And then he let me ride alone."
Dandy nodded, but she was unimpressed. We had both been on and around horses since we were weaned. And I had no words to convey the delight of the great strides of the horse in the dream.
"He was telling me how to ride," I said. My voice went quieter still, and my throat tightened. "He loved me," I said miserably. "He did. I could tell by the way he spoke to me. He was my Da -- but he loved me."
"And then?" said Dandy, impatient.
"I woke up," I said. "That was all."
"Didn't you see the house, or your clothes, or the food?" she asked, disappointed.
"No," I said. "Not this time."
"Oh," she said and was silent a moment. "I wish I could dream of it like you do," she said longingly. "T'aint fair."
A warning grunt from the bed made us lower our voices again.
"I wish I could see it," she said.
"You will," I promised. "It is a real place. It is real somewhere. I know that somewhere it is a real place. And we will both be there, someday."
"Wide," she said. "It's a funny name."
"That's not the whole name," I said cautiously. "Not quite Wide. Maybe it's something-Wide. I never hear it clear enough. I listen and I listen but I'm never quite sure of it. But it's a real place. It is real somewhere. And it's where I belong."
I lay on my back and looked at the stains on the sacking roof of the caravan and smelled the stink of four people sleeping close with no windows open, the acid smell of stale urine from last night's pot.
"It's real somewhere," I said to myself. "It has to be."
There were three good things in my life, that dirty painful life of a gypsy child with a father who cared nothing for her, and a stepmother who cared less. There was Dandy, my twin sister -- as unlike me as if I were a changeling. There were the horses we trained and sold. And there was the dream of Wide.
If it had not been for Dandy I think I would have run away as soon as I was old enough to leave. I would have upped and gone, run off to one of the sleepy little villages in the New Forest in that hot summer of 1805 when I was fifteen. That was the summer I turned on Da and stood up to him for the first time ever.