Monday 28 December 2020

Book Review: Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Dark Tides
Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Publication date: 24th November 2020
Series: The Fairmile #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 472
Format read: paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse's poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.

The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.

Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.

Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home
My review
Dark Tides is book 2 in The Fairmile series. Tidelands (book1) left us with two strong, determined women leaving Sealsea Island, heading to London to start a new life. I was excited to to see how Alinor and her daughter Alys would fair in this new adventure.
Dark Tides is set 21 years later. Alys has 21 year old twins, Sarah and Johnnie. Alys now runs a wharf on the poorer south-side of London whilst Alinor brings in money making packs of herbs and selling them. They are not rich but they get by and both Sarah and Johnnie have apprenticeships.
Alinor's brother Ned has also left the tidelands now that the new king is on the throne. He has decided to make a new life where he can be his own master in New England (USA).
There is no backstory to fill in the missing twenty odd years which makes Dark Tides read well as a standalone. 
The story moves back and forward between London and Hadley - New England. They are two completely different stories only occasionally connecting through Alinor and Ned's correspondence or when Ned sends herbs to Alinor in London.
With the introduction of Rob's widow Livia arriving from Venice, babe in arms, Philippa Gregory has given her readers an amazing antagonist. I loved how Livia worked, confident and conniving. Everyone was immediately smitten with her, completely under her spell. Well, almost everyone.  She was a perfectly drawn character, charismatic and manipulative, totally believable and I was enthralled as I watched her weave her web of lies and deceit. 
The story held plenty of suspense as the setting moves from London to Venice and my Fitbit will attest to the increase in my heart rate as the tension mounted.
I was equally invested in Ned's story, although not as compelling, I loved learning about the native Indians, the Pokanoket people, and their ways with the land. Ned was, as I expected, one with both the natives and the settlers. He was keen to learn the ways of the natives and their wisdom. I could clearly see Alinor with her herbs and natural healing would also be one with these people.
Gregory explains how these peaceful people were lied to, cheated and betrayed by the settlers and how they were not prepared to lose everything, including their way of life.
I loved Dark Tides (book 2) even more than the first book Tidelands. I have no idea where the story will go from here but I am eagerly awaiting book three in The Fairmile series. 
5/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Meet the author
Photo: Goodreads
Philippa Gregory is one of the world’s foremost historical novelists. She wrote her first ever novel, Wideacre, when she was completing her PhD in eighteenth-century literature and it sold worldwide, heralding a new era for historical fiction.
Her flair for blending history and imagination developed into a signature style and Philippa went on to write many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen.
Now a recognised authority on women’s history, Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent and was made Alumna of the Year in 2009. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck University of London.
Philippa is a member of the Society of Authors and in 2016, was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award by the Historical Writers’ Association. In 2018, she was awarded an Honorary Platinum Award by Nielsen for achieving significant lifetime sales across her entire book output.

Challenges entered:   Historical Fiction Challenge  #2020HistFicReadingChallenge
My review of Tidelands

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