Book Review of Tidelands, the newest book from Queen of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory

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.

Duffy’s Thoughts On Tidelands

I LOVE Philippa Gregory. I’m a huge fan of the Tudor period and Philippa is a master at conjuring up a time full of royal secrets, and women in sweeping heavy velvet gowns whispering secrets to lovers and political spies. With bated breath, I waited for Tidelands and settled in to visit times past and and some strong female characters.

In Gregory’s previous books such as The Last Tudor and The Other Boleyn Girl, the characters are carefully crafted and gaps in history are filled with intricate details of the time, woven together to create historical fiction full of intrigue and suspense. Tidelands, however, takes a different path outside of the royal court and into the lives of those in poverty and women who are healers and descendants of ‘wise women’.

The details are exquisite and Tidelands will take you on a gentle journey focussing on a young woman, Alinor, and her children, who were seen as different in a time where being different would get you killed.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Tudor historical fiction

I understand that this is book one in The Fairmile Series and therefore would need investment in the setup, but I was quite a way in before anything in particular happened. There didn’t seem to be any dramatic twist or building suspense and based on Gregory’s books I’ve read previously I guess I was expecting something with a little more excitement. I also felt the character development a little lacking without really getting a grip on Alinor. The witchcraft angle suggested on promotional material, the synopsis (and the main reason I was drawn to the book), didn’t get the expected page time either.

That being said, you can’t deny Gregory’s skill as a writer and her crown remains firmly in place as one of the great writers of historical fiction. I will give book #2 a go when it’s published and hope that there is a little more drama, intensity and plot twists.

Book Review of Tidelands. Latest historical fiction from Philippa Gregory
Published by Simon & Schuster – Available now