Wideacre (©1987)

by Philippa Gregory
The Frist Book of the Wideacre Trilogy

Set in early English gentry life, Wideacre is a historical novel which chronicals the life of Beatrice Lacey and her family. Beatrice is a favored child growing up, taken under her father's wing and shown the mechanics and passion of running a moderate estate, which held firm to traditional 'old ways' amid surrounding estates experimenting with more modern popular ways of farming and land ownership. Her brother Harry, by the current law, will inherit Wideacre and the title of Squire. Stunned her father would chose Harry over herself as future Squire of Wideacre, when Harry does not love the land, Beatrice commits to changing traditional law by any means necessary to secure the future of Wideacre and its heirs. Shadowed by only one who has intimate knowledge of the extreme means Beatrice is capable of, can she change

the law for Wideacre and secure its future for the Lacey Family?
      Wealthy Beatrice Lacey has grown up on her family estate, Wideacre, and loves it more than anything. She is tormented by the fact that it will never be hers, as eighteenth century inheritence laws forbaade allowing a female child to inherit. Therefore, Beatrice plots her father's death, knowing that she can bend the legal heir, her brother, Harry, to her will. She seduces Harry, and the two begin an incestuous relationship, that is not stopped by Harry's marriage, or the birth of their children, or Beatrice's marriage. Beatrice is able to pass one of their children off as belonging to Harry and his wife, and the other as belonging to her husband. However, Beatrice grows more and more ruthless in her desire for complete ownership of wideacre, and her greed begins to suck the once prosperous estate dry. As a noose of her own making begins to tighten, Beatrice struggles to ensure the estate will go to her children.