England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . . From Philippa Gregory, the #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.
England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbours are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but what they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands.
Praise for Tidelands:
‘Utterly Gripping. Impossible to Put Down. This is the first book in The Fairmile Series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for Alinor and her descendants. A must read!’ Better Reading
‘The first in a planned series ... The author crafts her material with effortless ease. Her grasp of social mores is brilliant, the love story rings true and the research is, as ever, of the highest calibre' Daily Mail
The author is British, holds a PhD in eighteenth-century literature, and is a best selling historical novelist. Most, if not all, of her fiction has a strong feminist bent. She is probably best known for The Other Boleyn Girl (2001), the 9th in a series of about a gazillion on the Plantagenets and Tudors. (Who doesn’t love those rascals?)
This one is the first in a series starting in the English Civil War and continuing through (so far) to the Glorious Revolution.
The book opens in 1648 in the titular swampy seaside of southern England. Charles I is holed up on the Isle of Wight while his Cavaliers and the parliamentary forces duke it out (earl, baron and roundhead it out too, I dare say) across the land.
We meet our hero Alinor, a “wise’ woman (midwife, expert on herbal stuff, not a witch exactly, although teetering on the brink in the minds of many) out on a vigil praying for her lost husband. He was a fisherman who disappeared at sea, as they tend to do, especially in 1648. Our gal encounters a well dressed young bloke who turns out to be a Catholic priest just off the (illegal) boat from France to spy, re-convert, whatever, in perfidious Albion.
Ms Gregory evokes the time period as vividly as ever. There’s more romance than is usual for her, possibly because not much happens otherwise. The audiobook is better than slogging through the written version IMHO. (It also had the distinct advantage of being free on special offer from Apple Books at the time I read/listened.)
Fantastic reading. Superb story. Excellent narration.
I want more of this quality. Best ever audio book I’ve had so far.