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Publisher's Summary

Featuring a foreword recorded exclusively for Audible by Philippa Gregory and an interview with the author.

Philippa Gregory's first story in the best-selling Wideacre trilogy. A compelling tale of passion and intrigue set in the 18th century. From the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin's Lover.

Wideacre Hall, set in the heart of the English countryside, is the ancestral home that Beatrice Lacey loves. But as a woman of the 18th century, she has no right of inheritance. Corrupted by a world that mistreats women, she sets out to corrupt others.

Sexual and willful, she believes that the only way to achieve control over Wideacre is through a series of horrible crimes, and no-one escapes the consequences of her need to possess the land.

©2006 Philippa Gregory (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The eighteenth-century woman is a neglected creature but, in the figure of her heroine, Philippa Gregory has defined a certain kind of wildness.... This is a novel written from instinct, not out of calculation, and it shows." (Peter Ackroyd, The Times)

What listeners say about Wideacre

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Refreshing

I enjoy fiction from this time period and found the story refreshing in a genre oversaturated with the same boring plots. Honestly I don't understand all the negative reviews. Incest? A character with bad intentions? Come on people, this is storytelling, not a handbook on morality!

Normally main female characters in historical fiction fit one of two personalities - 1) the modest mouse with hidden fire or 2) the fierce heroine with a soft side - and Beatrice fits neither. While I hold no sympathy for her, I also found myself intrigued and curious by her obsession with the land.

I think you have to approach this book with a different kind of perspective. Don't expect so much innocent goodness and just let yourself listen openly. The book brings up a lot of the darkness in humanity which we are afraid of, and I appreciated the author's ability to unveil this while simultaneously painting such a beautiful portrait of the countryside. I found her writing lovely.

Overall I saw a lot of contrasts in this book and would definitely recommend it for someone who wants something different from the same old storyline.

109 people found this helpful

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Its a Page Turner

As others have mentioned the subject matter in this book and lengths to which Beatrice goes to keep Wideacre for herself and her family becomes abhorrent but it is so well written and narrated that I still enjoyed it...especially the surprising ending when she got what she deserved. You just never knew what she would do next and that made it a page turner for me. This book is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for something different and a protagonist who stops at NOTHING to get what she wants and thinks she deserves you just might like this book. Just starting book 2 tonight and will be interested to see where Philippa takes us next with Wideacret!!

20 people found this helpful

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Disgusting!

Sibling incest, Patricide, greed, murder. Terrible story, then the book crashed in chapter 10. Won’t reload. Good thing I didn’t want to finish!

18 people found this helpful

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Love to hate

I loved this book. I find Beatrice to be an interesting character who you want to love and feel compassion for. However, on a regular basis she make decision that as a reader you find morally wrong and can not find compassion for her poor decisions. The warring thoughts and hopes that she would redeem herself keep my interest to the end. Very well developed characters.

18 people found this helpful

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Well-written; No Pearl Clutching Necessary

I didn't think I was going to like this story after getting close to the core of it. It's absolutely NOT your average period piece romance. And if you're looking for just a straight up love story - this is likely not for you.

Beatrice Lacey, the main character who tells her own story, isn't likable past a certain point in the book. She then becomes far less so as the story goes on. A lot of people have problems with a main character who isn't purely good-intentioned, as some other reviewers clearly do.
She becomes blinded by and solely focused on the singlular goal of owning her beloved childhood home, Wideacre, where she knows every tree, every rock, and every blade of grass, as well as everyone who works the land personally, having been raised like a son by her father, in that she was schooled in the running of the estate.
As a fiercely independent woman in the 18th century (where she has no rights to property and no opportunities to do much more than get married and idly embroider in some sitting room), it all leads her to bad, cold and cruel behavior over the years and then cold and cruel behavior to keep bad secrets hidden away.
But if you can accept that everyone has the potential to do bad/inappropriate things under just the right circumstances, you might like this book, as I did. I find fictional characters who only do right or only do wrong to be boring and unrealistic, in general.

Yes, there is incest. If you have trauma attached to that subject and don't want to read about a mutual incestuous relationship: fair warning; definitely not a book for you as it is featured throughout..
Everyone else - it's creepy and I probably would have toned it down just because it seems to go on for too long with a strange amount of desire on Beatrice's part being that she finds the person dull and cowardly. But, otherwise, not a dealbreaker like I thought it might be. It's not something that happens randomly or just because Beatrice happens to really be into this person; it's part of her plan to get to what she wants with no other direct, normal routes open to her as a woman.

The story is very interesting (I couldn't stop listening) and written wonderfully. It's so descriptive, you feel like you're there. The narrator was a HUGE standout too, for me. She was just brilliant and got every accent and every inflection right on! I was actually sad to learn she didn't do either of the other books in the series...

It's also layered. The plight of the changing life of the 18th century villager features prominently; the changing from the old system where wealthy land owner worked WITH farm workers, allowed them pieces of common land on the property to grow/graze their own food, provided harvest feasts for them, helped those in need, and generally acknowledged that the land was partially theirs because of the labor they put into it; the un-capitalistic principles of acknowledging labor for what it is - everything - and that workers are humans with needs, not programmable machines.

Overall, I quite liked it.

51 people found this helpful

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A dark and twisted view of life

I am so upset I started listening to this book. The author clearly has some kind of unresolved mental issues that she is dealing with and wrote a book so full of dysfunction, hateful actions, and pain that makes it seem like everyone in the world is fully twisted without redemption. I couldn’t get through more than a few chapters (the first 30 minutes of which were basically a giant explanation of some hills and trees) before I was so disturbed I had to turn it off.

12 people found this helpful

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  • A.
  • 09-09-19

I don't know what I was expecting...

...but I'm glad for the end of this book. The main character is a woman who becomes such a *itch (with a "b") that I continued to hope for a turnaround event that would change her into a good, kind, and well-respected human being again. And the preview of the next volume told of such a heinous act in the making, that I am seriously debating whether to continue the series or not. And I have always, previous to this one, enjoyed Philippa Gregory's works. Maybe it's just me...?

8 people found this helpful

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  • C
  • 10-12-21

illicit relationship

You lost me with the illicit sexual relationship between brother and sister. Absolutely disgusting. I wanted a love story, not incest.

7 people found this helpful

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Desperate ambition

Like parts of a movie, u want to look away from but u just can’t.

5 people found this helpful

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Probably decent if you can get past the incest.

It was hard for me to get over the incest throughout the book. The strong female lead I wanted to love was heartless and cruel. I couldn't relate to any of the characters in the book. This is not up to the usual bar of Philippa Gregory's other works.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Ellie S.
  • 10-23-17

Not your usual Philippa Gregory

It’s a bit Mills & Boon with a fair bit of sex. Not at all what I expected but it did cover the serious issue of enclosure. I will listen to part 2 when I have a whole holiday to not feel guilty about it’s lack of real literary worthiness.

55 people found this helpful

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  • R. J. Gladden
  • 10-04-17

Spectacularly Evil

I had read this book years ago when it first came out and Philippa Gregory wasn't anywhere near as famous as she is now. I loved it then and I love it now. Our heroine, Beatrice Lacey, allows nothing to stand in her way in pursuit of power and the estate she loves, Wideacre. Sadly Beatrice corrupts not only herself and those around her but also the thing she loves most, Wideacre.

I sometimes despaired of justice being served and there will be no spoilers from me but the book is gripping and definitely one of Philippa's best. I loved the narration, however in some of the characters voices Emma Powell almost mispronounced 'Beatrice' as 'Bitches'. It was really disconcerting on occasion!

Altogether a book well worth listening to for the story and the narration.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-14-17

More like "50 shades of grey".....

I have never written a review, despite going through at least 2-3 books a months. But being such a huge fun Philippa Gregory, this book was SUCH a disappointment! A peculiar story, devious main character and disturbing details.... Not the Philippa Gregory I love...

85 people found this helpful

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  • Wonder Woman
  • 12-16-17

Awful read

I do not know where Philippa Gregory was going with this and I'm not sure she did either. It certainly is a great lesson in people sticking to what they are good at. The plot lacked direction throughout, was extremely awkwardly written and ended in a predictable fashion. Disappointing and while there were flashes of brilliant prose throughout it lacked the quintessential element of a believable plot. It was neither fiction nor fantasy fiction. Immensely disappointed.

70 people found this helpful

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  • Hannah Boyes
  • 03-01-19

if she says 'Wideacre' one more time

it was fanciful tripe and I was glad when it was finished. The writing was repetitive and not at all for me. I always like to finish an audiobook so stuck with it but would absolutely not recommended.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Krissy
  • 11-09-17

Gripping

What a gripping tale. It has everything and is told so well by Emma Powell.

12 people found this helpful

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  • carol
  • 09-30-17

uneasy and troubled main character

Initially I enjoyed the story and characters, however ,by the time I had listened to chapter 8, the story made me feel uncomfortable, the characture of Beatrice, was wholly abhorrent to me, she was a troubled and thoroughly wicked person, the type of person, I would avoid like the plague, therefore I decided that even though it is only fictional, I cannot listen anymore.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-05-17

best book ever

couldn't stop listening day and night . brilliant . narrator made the book come alive in my mind . can't wait to download book 2 .

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-24-21

Disturbing

While I am usually a huge fan of Gregory's work, I was highly unimpressed with this book. Admittedly, it was her first novel, however it wasn't similar to any of her others in any way. The character wasn't relatable and did some unspeakable (and sometimes, quite disgusting) things for her own motives, which even then weren't understandable. It's very rare for me not to make it through to the end of a book. However, after about half of this book I just couldn't continue. Thankfully, Gregory seems to have found her niche writing fiction based on fact, which she should most definitely stick to in the future.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Manx Miss
  • 05-02-21

Tedious , tawdry and repetitive.

Have read and enjoyed many of Philippa Gregory's historical novels . She writes so well but this one is far too long , drawn out and far fetched . Such a shame she could not have developed the scheming heroine in a more credible way. A lot of potential but it just doesn't deliver! The plot goes on and on , losing more credibility as it progresses and is just sleazy and repetitive . I got up to the point where her brother married. To think there are two more books in the trilogy . Life really is too short.
Narration is good. Ms Powell deserves a medal for getting through to the end of Wideacre . I'm afraid I couldn't!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Erica
  • 01-09-18

The main character is horrible

I've read lots of Philippa Gregory so was excited to read this one. The narrator was excellent and the story was intriguing but the main character was so awful that I finished it with mixed feelings. I'm not sure I can be bothered to read the next in the series.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Alison Downey
  • 10-09-21

Hard not to wish the heroine did not die sooner

I enjoyed this book which is well researched and interesting. However Beatrice was such an amoral and uncaring person that I began to wish she would leave the book and let us get on with life in a Sussex village.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Goddessmmoon
  • 05-08-22

fantastic

riveting! great story. Phillipa out did herself. so unexpected! fantastic narration. can't wait to read the next one!

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  • Wednesday's Child
  • 04-23-22

OMG! The protagonist is an actual psychopath!

I persisted in reading this book to the end in the hope of some sort of redemption. Spoiler alert ⚠️ : this book makes redemption look like a fairy tale. I read for entertainment sake, but this is a thorough study of what an 18th century psychopath would look like. This book left me cold and disturbed. I can not fathom how the publishers thought this would be entertaining - even horror movies have satisfying endings.

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  • SW TUBBS
  • 04-23-22

Soapy

The romantic segments were frequent and described poorly in that some of the language was soapy and made me cringe. A pity because the story overall had possibilities.

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  • karen
  • 04-01-22

Worst Gregory.

Such a distasteful novel. A completely unlikeable main character, incest and murder with no repentance makes for the most uncompelling reading. I could not finish. I’m
a big fan of Gregory’s work but this was just awe full.

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  • Kathleen F Barac
  • 02-17-22

Not for the faint hearted

Almost gave up on this book twice but glad I pushed on to see Beatrice get her just deserts. Don’t expect another one of Phillippa Gregory’s excellent historicals. Although very well written, this one is not for the faint hearted. Beatrice is no mealy-mouth Scarlett O’Hara pining after her ancestral home - she is prepared to do anything (and does) to gain control of Wideacre. Nice to see Cecilia grow a spine and others to rise above Beatrices plots. May need to read something lighter before I tackle the next in the series.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-22

Too long

it was a bit drawn our but in saying that I was compelled to finish.

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  • Maryanne
  • 02-06-22

Engaging book 1 of 3 in series

Well written and engaging characters. Kept my interest with easy listening for the complete 3 book series.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pamela Burgess
  • 01-15-22

Wideacre

The main character is a villain there is no escaping that and it takes a bit to get past the incest , her attraction isn’t for her brother but his title. I’m not sure if I hate or pity her, for someone who corrupted herself and went to extraordinary lengths to get what she loved for herself once possessed she utterly destroys everything she loves about it.
Her brother is spineless and self indulgent but her sister in law and husband make up for their corrupt spouses the best they can.