The Favored Child by Philippa Gregory

PUBLISHING INFO: Penguin, 1989
GENRE: Historical Fiction
SETTING: England
SERIES: Wideacre Trilogy, #2

FROM PUBLISHER: Heiress of Wideacre, the most infamous estate in 18th-century Sussex, Julia Lacey had an uncanny way with the land. She could call forth wheat-rich harvests from the ruined earth, and in blinding visions the future came to her. But as the estate rose from its ashes, even these gifts could not prevent a passionate rivalry between her cousin Richard and the man Julia loved, nor quench the venomous treachery born of Richard’s greed for Wideacre…

Here is the ravishing story of a beautiful, willful woman who would reach magnificent heights and murderous depths to save the land she was fated to rule. With all the raging, hypnotic intensity of a brilliant storm, THE FAVORED CHILD sweeps us into a world of tragic secrets, lavish intrigues and a love far more powerful than destiny itself.

SPOILER SUMMARY: This is the second book in the ‘Wideacre’ trilogy. It’s about sibblings Beatrice and Harry’s children Julia, the oldest, and Richard. Richard believes John, his dead mothers widow, is his father. He thinks Julia is his cousin, raised by his uncle Harry and aunt Celia. But they are really full brother and sister.

The book starts by stating that Harry died of a weak heart two years after daughter Julia was born. Beatrice’s widow John moved to India after her death.

When Julia was 12, she had a dream and a voice told her repeatedly, “The favored child, the favored child. She always was the favored child.”

Her brother Richard, who she thinks is her cousin, was given a horse when he first learned to ride. Julia loved his horse and it made Richard extremely jealous every time Julia rode it. One day when Richard was 11, he was thrown from a horse and no one could find him. Dench (don’t remember who he is) sent Julia out on Richard’s horse to get help. Richard was very angry that Dench let her ride his horse, so he fired him. One night Richard came to Julia’s room and told her he heard someone outside and that he thought it might have been Dench. The next day, they discovered that someone had purposely cut the back of Richard’s favorite horses legs and the horse couldn’t stand because of it. To put the horse out of its misery, Richard beat the horse in the head with something. He said Dench must have done it as revenge for being fired. What really happened was Richard injured his own horse because he was jealous of Julia’s love for it. So the night before the horse was found, when Richard told Julia he thought he’d heard someone outside, he only did that to make the others think that person is the one who injured the horse.

When Julia was 16 and Richard was 15, Richard’s ‘father’ John came back from India. He has plans to rebuild Wideacre and has hired Ralph Megson to be the manager. Ralph is the one Beatrice got to murder her father over 16 years before. Julia asked Ralph why he was the ‘hero’ of Wideacre. He told her he was the one who lead the villagers to Wideacre and he’s the one who murdered Beatrice and that he had been Beatrice’s lover. Julia kept that information to herself and told no one.

Richard ended up raping his cousin Julia (who’s really his sister) one day and got her pregnant. He held her down, broke her wrist and threatened to strangle her and have his way with her anyway. They married in secret. Their parents found out she was pregnant by Richard then Richard confessed to marrying her a month before. Richard’s father John then told them that they were brother and sister. At the time Julia was 17, Richard, 16. John and Celia went to have the marriage annuled and on the way there they were stopped by a highwayman and both were shot and killed.

When Julia was 7 months pregnant Richard gave her her mother’s necklace and earrings, which had been stolen when they were killed. In that moment, Julia realized Richard had her parents killed to prevent them from having the marriage annuled. She knew then too that he’d murdered her friend Clary. He then told her he’d injured his own horse.

A few weeks before Julia’s baby was due, she woke up one night to find Richard in bed with her. He told her that he’d almost strangled her and that he wanted her so that he could get her share of Wideacre. He told her then that he had, in fact, killed her friend Clary because she’d seen him rape Julia. He then told her about killing her parents. She told him she didn’t believe him, just to make him angry. She wanted him to kill her to end her misery. He got mad because she didn’t believe him and tried to strangle her. She went into labor. He left the room to get help. Julia gave birth to Sarah, rushed out of the house immediately afterward, when to the river to drown the baby. She saw a caravan of Gypsies and handed the baby to a woman, giving her a pearl neckless as payment for taking the baby.

When Julia got back home, Ralph was standing behind a sitting Richard, and had a knife to his throat. Julia told Ralph to ‘do it’, so Ralph slit Richard’s throat.

And that’s how this warped tale ended. The baby, Sarah is in the third book, Meridon. When that book starts, I think Sarah is a teenager who was raised up with a sister. And it’s awful.


1 Comment

  1. Caroline said,

    September 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    John MacAndrew. Please make the correction, he is Beatrice Lacey’s husband not McAdams.

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