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This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.
A country at war
A king beheaded
A woman with a dangerous secret
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 neighbors 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 the secrets 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.
“This is Gregory par excellence” (Kirkus Reviews). “Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) that is “superb… A searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages” (People).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We loved reading Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen. With Tidelands, the British historical novelist leaves the world of royalty behind, turning her attention to a story of poverty, superstition, forbidden love—and the difficulties of being a woman and single mother in 1648 England. Gregory’s heroine, Alinor, is scraping by as an herbalist and midwife, despite rumors that she’s a witch. Then she crosses paths with James, a young priest who needs a hideout from the civil war that’s raging outside Alinor’s small coastal village. The couple’s story moves from calm, still waters to a raging swell, climaxing in an intense and astonishing ending. And it’s all packed with Gregory’s trademark deep historical research.
Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) deviates from her usual focus on historical figures to shine a light on the plight of common women in 1640s England in the dynamic first book of her new Fairmile series. Alinor, a midwife with knowledge of herbal remedies, is in difficult circumstances. Her fisherman husband has been gone for months, and she must care for herself and her two growing children during a precarious time in England's history. King Charles, forced off his throne by Parliament, has been banished to the Isle of Wight following his defeat in civil war. It's also a period when a strong woman on her own, like the beautiful Alinor who has skills that others can't understand, can easily be accused of being a witch; the author cleverly plants such seeds of suspicion throughout. At the open, Alinor meets a handsome, young Catholic priest, a royals champion with the means to help the king escape. She helps the priest find a haven, and their ensuing romance has devastating consequences for both. Against the backdrop of political turmoil, Gregory's narrative displays the harrowing mores of the time, showcasing the vulnerability of women who speak their mind and introducing a family struggling out of poverty who will provide plenty of grist for the mill of a continuing saga. History buffs and Gregory's fans alike will be anticipating the next installment.