By: Philippa Gregory
New York Times Bestselling author Philippa Gregory is back with another series, The Tidelands. Gregory is known as a master storyteller of historical fiction such as The Plantagenet and Tudor novels. This novel whisks readers away from royal court life and into the marshlands in the South coast of England, where a poor woman named Alinor who is skilled in the art of healing resides. Life for a poor single woman, skilled with herbs is anything but easy in 1648. Superstition and paranoia are rampant and the witch hysteria of the time makes Alinor the perfect victim, because of her profession and skills.
The Tidelands takes place in 1648 on a remote Island called, Sealsea, located off of the South Coast of England. England is on the brink of a civil war and accusations of witchcraft are all too common, which also carry deadly consequences. Our heroin is Alinor, a poor young healer and midwife to an abusive husband, who's life is anything but easy. She is a descendant of wise women and has the gift of foresight, but her everyday life is rather ordinary. She is the wife of a fisherman and the mother of two children; a daughter named Alys and a son named Rob. After Alinors' husband goes missing at sea, she faces the responsibility of being a single mother with two young children. One night in a graveyard, Alinor meets a young Priest on the run named James Summer, who is still loyal to the disgraced King Charles I. She agrees to hide James and the two began a love affair, which will unknowingly lead her down a dark path ahead. Alinor's beauty, newfound wealth and knowledge of herbs make her the envy of the other villagers, as well as the target of their wrath. Alinor soon realizes that a strong willed woman, who possess knowledge and freedom can have dire consequences, like accusations of witchcraft.
The Tidelands varies from Gregory's previous novels that revolve around the aristocracy and the impact of war on their lives. Gregory sticks to her feminist themes about women navigating life in a man's world, but the heroin in this novel is an ordinary peasant woman, instead of the noble women that readers have become accustomed to reading about. Gregory also details the lives of everyday people and how the war has impacted them. In war time, we learn that the poor suffers the most and Gregory goes into great detail to describe the dire circumstances of the lower class in society. Alinor is a smart, interesting character that is filled with life, but as she learns the hard way, being a woman filled with knowledge can come with deadly consequences. This novel is a good read and if your fan of Gregory's past work, historical fiction or the witchcraft mania in seventeenth century England, than The Tidelands may just be the book for you.