Review: Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is one of the most beloved authors of historical fiction today and it is not at all difficult to see why. Many of her novels are set during some of the most controversial points in British history, and feature strong heroines who often find themselves victims of circumstances. Take, for example, her Tudor novels which detail the lives of King Henry the eighth's six wives (and one mistress,) in a manner that is both historically accurate and delivered with a whole lot of empathy. Without Gregory's novels, I probably never would have heard of Mary Boleyn, discovered that Kateryn Parr published two books, or found myself wanting to learn more about the Tudors and reading novels by other authors.

And now, with Tidelands, the first book in the Fairmile saga, Gregory moves to a different point in history. The year is 1648. There is a civil war raging in England between the King and the Parliament. That should have very little effect on Alinor, a twenty-seven year old woman living in the remote Tidelines, but fate has other plans. When Alinor visits a cemetery on Midsummers Eve in the hope of meeting her husband's ghost (though not for the reasons one may think,) she meets James, a Priest who is on the run. Realising that he needs her help, she does what she can, but this, coupled with Alinor's interest in herbs and the politics of the day, has terrible consequences. After all, in an era where women, especially those who are living in poverty, have little power, and where these is so much fear of the supernatural, it is all too easy to make accusations and Alinor can do very little to stop them.

Tidelands is rich in history and features the characters and the level of detail I have come to expect from Gregory's work. It is an enjoyable read and, I feel, will appeal equally to fans of historical novels as it will to fans of gothic romance. The only disappointing part of this novel is that much of the action is squashed in at the end. The ending hints at what may come in the next book in the series, which looks rather interesting.

Recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of Tidelands.

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