Score: 4/5 Bookmarks
Tidelands by Philippa Gregory is the first in her new Fairmile series.
I’ve been a Philippa Gregory fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve read most of her books multiple times and they have continued to be favorites. So when I received an advancer reader copy of Tidelands I was beyond excited to get stuck into it.
It definitely took me a longer to get into, than her other books, and I found myself not really liking any of the characters very much to begin with. Once the book was released I got myself the audiobook to see if that would help me enjoy it more, which I think it did to some extent because Louise Brealey is a fantastic narrator.
The story is set in 1640s England, in the tidelands on the coast of England near Chichester in West Sussex. Our heroine is a poor woman, with two children, who’s husband has left her. She is surrounded by suspicion as the town folk think she has ‘the sight’ and that her beautiful children came from fairies.
At times I found the story frustrating because Alinor is often her own worst enemy, and I wanted to shake some sense into her. I also felt a lot of the dialogue was forced and unreal. Obviously I don’t really know how people spoke back in the 1640s but it didn’t seem natural and often forced me out of the flow of the story.
Having said all that, I still gave the book four out of five because I did think it was mostly written very well, and it transported me to another place and time, and made me think about what life would have been like then.
If you enjoy historical fiction I’d certainly add this one to your ‘to be read’ list. And I heard a rumor that the author is already most of the way through the second book, which will tell us about the next generation of the family and be set partly in London and partly in Venice.
You can grab the book via the button below, or listen to the audiobook here.
England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .
Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.
Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.
Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.