Monday 2 September 2019

Book Review: Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory


Publisher: Simon & Schuster AU 
Series: The Fairmile #1 
Publication date: 20th August 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 438
Format read: Uncorrected proof Paperback
Source: courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.

Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.

England 1648 is a dangerous time for a woman especially if you have intelligence, beauty and determination.

Allinor is a herbalist, a healer just like her mother before her. However her skill with herbs and her outstanding beauty cause mistrust and jealousy. She is gossiped about as being a witch. With her husband missing she is left to bring up two children alone.
Tidelands is set during the last few months of King Charles I’s reign and a time of religious upheaval. It is troubled times in England and those troubles reach as far as the remote Tidelands.

The major part of the story is about the political unrest of the time and a plot to save the King. Allinor is unwittingly pulled into the danger when she helps a handsome stranger and falls in love.

Gregory deftly portrays the poverty and remoteness of Sealsea Island and through Allinor we see the life that women had to endure. With her husband missing she was neither wife nor widow. Her working hours were long and hard.

The plot is slow but immersive with the book spanning only 9 months it is a solid basis for the continuing saga. As the rest of the series unfolds we will have no doubt of the poverty and hardship these characters came from.

Philippa Gregory is a master story-teller. Her research and knowledge of the time period shines through in how effortlessly and smoothly the story flows.
A missing husband, a handsome priest; Tidelands is an unforgettable story of love, perseverance and danger. 



My rating  4/5

Photo credit: goodreads
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.

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. 



  1. Veronica, I don't know how this one has slipped under my radar! I didn't realize Gregory had a new series coming out. I'm definitely curious after reading your review!

    1. I've read a few of her previous novels and enjoyed them but I must say this series is more my type of Historical Fiction. I'm hoping the next one isn't too far away.

  2. I'm going to have to read this one some time. I want to read it now before another book comes out and sets me even further behind.

    1. I think you will like it Theresa and probably get more out of it historically, than me.

  3. I'm glad to see she's moved on from the Tudor era and royalty, but I'm still not convinced I want to read this one.

    1. If you are not a fan of her work I would probably skip this one.

  4. Great review, I enjoyed this one too. The beginning of an exciting new series.

    1. I'm eager for the next installment. I love a generational saga.