Book Review: Tidelands (Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory

 I have been reading books by Philippa Gregory for over fifteen years now and she still stands out as my favourite historical fiction author. This time she has come out with a new series starting with ‘Tidelands’ as the first book and I am excited to go on this new journey with her.

As usual, this turned out to be an excellent read. In her usual style, the author has crafted another captivating and provocative tale that ends with a beginning as this is the first book in this series.

Set at a very crucial time in English history where monarchy and parliament fight for supremacy, Alinor is a poor woman who is without a husband and is left with two children not because she is widowed or divorced but because her husband has been missing for over a year. Tucked away in the Tidelands, she struggles to survive as a midwife and herbalist. Some whisper that she is a wise woman who uses dark arts and magic as her mother and grandmother before her but Alinor denies that she has any extraordinary powers especially in these times of the new Church where you can be sent to the stakes if called a witch.

On a fateful night, she risks her life to save a stranger and this encounter changes her life for good and for bad. Her children are presented with opportunities that will alleviate them from poverty as her son Rob, is given a scholarship to study as an apprentice and her daughter, Alys is now betrothed to the Eligible Richard Stoney. However, Alinor has fallen for James, the stranger she helped and he is also smitten by her but things get complicated as Alinor discovers she is with child and this secret threatens all the good fortune that has fallen on her family.

 Laced with suspense and intrigue, Philippa Gregory has woven a complicated but yet realistic tale that would hold you bound till the end. I admire her continuous commitment to writing stories about women in history, throwing light on their contributions, courage and struggles. Giving women who were previously ignored in the history books a voice and their proper place in past times.

My favourite character is Alinor as she stands to represent a woman who gives her all for those she loves but yet is strong enough to stand in the face of adversity even when threatened with death. She also showed a rare quality to stand for what she believed though it meant she would lose the opportunity to step up in class. My least favourite character was Alys her daughter because she struck me as a selfish girl who was ready to throw everyone under the bus to achieve her ambition. Though she tries to redeem herself in the end but the harm has already been done. I was also slightly disappointed in James who professed his love for Alinor and probably was in love with her but when this “love” was tested could not step up to the plate as expected.

This book was well paced and even with it’s 455 pages, I read through it quite quickly. The end was shocking and will leave you yearning for more and I am hungry for the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book to everyone especially historical fiction lovers. You will enjoy the read!

Rating: 4.2 Stars

Published: August 19, 2019 by Simon and Schuster UK

Pages: 455

Genre: Historical Fiction

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The Author: Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author. Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.


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