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Tidelands by Philippa Gregory: Your Preview Verdict

September 12, 2019

Our latest preview was Tidelands by Philippa Gregory, a fantastic novel set in England 1648. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands. It is a dangerous time to be a woman. Our Preview readers loved Alinor and the way she was portrayed, and the sheer amount of research that jumps out from the page. Our readers are all very excited for the next instalment in this new series.

Read some of their highlights.

Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite authors and her latest novel, Tidelands, does not disappoint. There are many things to love about the book but, in particular, the central character of Alinor was inspiring. Like many women living in England in the 1600’s, she lacks power and wealth, dependent on a husband for status. However, she is a devoted mother and despite finding herself in dire circumstances, she works tirelessly to ensure her children will have a better future. Philippa Gregory’s books are always so well researched that you quickly become immersed in the story. Unlike her Tudor novels, this book focuses not on the lives of the wealthy royal families of England, but rather on a poor family living in the marshy swamps in the south coast of England. Along with being entertained by a good story, we learn a lot about how the ordinary people of that time struggled to survive, especially with the superstitions and fears of witchcraft which plagued daily life. The novel ends with a cliffhanger that has me waiting on edge for the next book! – Debra, QLD, 5 stars

Tidelands is a well written book for lovers of historical fiction. The setting is moody and a bit depressing but the strength of character of Alinor was uplifting and the story is not one I will forget in a hurry. Living a harsh life of poverty and the suspicion of her neighbours, Alinor’s life points to dark times in history that I found thoroughly engrossing to read. – Rachel, QLD, 5 stars

This book made me remember why I love historical fiction. The top-level research combined with such rich story-telling left me wanting more and I’m hoping we won’t have to wait to long for the second instalment. In the meantime I’ll be reaching for more by Philippa Gregory. – Emma, VIC, 4 stars

Wow what a wonderful book. Loved every page turning moment of this book. Full of wonderful characters and a wonderful story line. The depth of the description of the characters made me feel as if I was there and could relate to each and everyone of them. I loved the history of the story and how the story and each character developed through out. Found it very hard to put this book down. Loved every minute of it and would highly recommend it. – Christine, QLD, 5 stars

One of the most enthralling historical novels I have read. A spine chilling account of what life was like for women in the 1600s, a reminder of how far we have come as a human race and a reminder of how far we still have to go in achieving equality for all. I can not wait for the next chapter! – Diane, SA, 5 stars

This story is set in 1648 England, in the midst of the Civil War between the King and Parliament. It is evident that a lot of research went into writing this book and retelling the history. It is unfathomable how women were treated in the past and the injustice of power was unfair. I have been making my way through Phillipa Gregory’s Tudor series and was excited to read this latest novel which certainly does not disappoint. Phillipa Gregory is a master at historical fiction. Tidelands includes a little bit of everything…drama, secrets, power and forbidden love. Gregory creates strong and complex female leads who show their independence in a world dominated by males. I look forward to reading the entire series and hope that it becomes just as big as her Tudor series. – Alexis, VIC, 5 stars

In contrast to Philippa Gregory’s usual royal subjects, Tidelands is a tale of a humble woman constrained by her poverty, trying to eke out an existence for herself and her two children on the edge of the marshlands in civil war England. Alinor is a midwife, herbalist, and wise woman, whose beauty, skills and knowledge evoke envy and suspicion despite her abject poverty. The narrow-minded meanness of her neighbours, particularly the women, and the constraints and suspicions of the puritan church-dictated society are in direct contrast to Alinor’s inherent goodness and unwavering compassion. Unfortunately, as throughout history, knowledgeable and unique women such as Alinor suffer betrayal and hatred at the hands of ignorant and bigoted ordinary folk. Tidelands is Alinor’s story and as with her persona, the development of her character shines above all others. The other “character” attaining equivalent prominence is the titular tidelands. I loved that the hidden currents of the brooding, turbulent and perilous environment that dictates the lives of all who inhabit the marshes mirrors the society in which Alinor lives. – Fenella, NSW, 5 stars

I loved Tidelands by Philippa Gregory, story was so fascinating and I loved Alinor. She was such a beautiful soul and the journey she goes on with her children is just addictive to read. The ending is surprising and truly suspenseful. Loved it – Elizabeth, NSW, 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Tidelands, the first book of The Fairmile series by Philippa Gregory. Though set during the English Civil War of the mid-1640s, this novel focuses the vulnerability of women – and especially that of Alinor, a midwife, descendant of wise women, and living in poverty in a society where the privileges of the nobility, the existence of faeries and witchcraft, and the powerlessness of women are the norm. What I particularly appreciated is that Gregory did not fall into the trap of giving her characters modern sensibilities, so that whilst they may dream and wish and struggle for a different and better life, still they can do little against their society’s moral codes and expectations, and their suspicions, envies and betrayals when someone dares to challenge these are totally believable. This book is wonderfully atmospheric. The research is meticulous but lightly worn, and Gregory has an enviable control of pace – the story begins slowly, the detailed description of life on the tidelands effectively reflects the plodding, mundane life of its inhabitants, but as the story develops tension builds to finish on a strong climax that guaranteed I will be reading the next book in this series. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Better Reading for this ARC. – Dominique, SA, 5 stars


Read all Preview reviews for Tidelands here.


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