Tidelands by Philippa Gregory
Trade paperback published: February 2020 – Washington Square Press
Review book courtesy of the publisher
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. (publisher)
My take: These are the days of uprising in England (the late 1640s). Feeling betrayed by their king, men are out for change and that begins with bringing him to trial and then transferring power. That is what’s going on in the greater world. What’s happening on a local level is the core story of Tidelands. We meet Alinor who is an herbalist/healer/midwife in a tiny island village. I thought the author did a great job of showing the challenges of being a woman during those days. At one time or another she is needed by all who live there but no one truly trusts that she is like them. Rumors of her being a witch run quietly through the area. Alinor’s husband left for war and has been gone over a year. This leaves her eking out an existence for her two children and herself. When James, a tutor for the Lord’s young son, turns up one night Alinor’s life might change for the better. Tidelands is about a time of change and what that means for the people of a tiny village as well as the country. It is a strong start to the Fairmile series and I can’t wait to read what happens next!