I love reading Historical Fiction and was thrilled to receive an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of Philippa Gregory’s Tidelands so I could tell everyone about this wonderful tale.
Tidelands, Sussex, June 1648 is a harsh place to live. Small patches fertile ground between land and sea where a gardener’s touch and a huge dose of survival are required to live. In a small one-room shanty of a house, lives a wise woman named Alinor with her two children. The husband is gone now for almost a year out to sea never to return. England is threatened by the dethroning of King Charles and a Parliament that is disruptive and divided. The church has undergone a new rule without a king and the citizens are in a civil war.
In this little community of farmers, tenants of Sir William, tithe to the landowner, and gossip about the beautiful Alinor, who struggles to make ends meet without a husband to fish and feed her children. She is barely a step away from falling upon the church for assistance, but she always seems to find the necessary daily dose of blessings for her children and gruel for food. She sells her herbs and flowers to those who will buy, never has meat on the table, and walks to and from Chichester to sell her wares and buy wool for spinning.
Alinor is the most beautiful woman in the village and all the women envy her; a woman without a husband to support her is said to sleep with the faeries and brews concoctions like a witch. But Alinor does not miss the married life to a husband who beat her and drank away their hard-earned money. And she dismisses any indication that she is a witch.
Her brother runs the ferry and lives in their family home and is a staunch supporter of General Cromwell and defeating the king. Brother and sister differ on politics, but Alinor lives in a world where women have no rights, so she hides her true faith and stands in the rear of the church and plays the game of the new rules without a king.
One dark night Alinor meets a stranger come into the village, James Summer. He is a spy sent to carry messages to Sir William via the king. Alinor hides James in her boathouse and this begins her trip into deceit. It is with James that she reciprocates a love she has never known. But fate has dealt her a cruel life and one she cannot rise above, even in love. This is a cliffhanger.
Tidelands is the beginning of a new series and I can’t wait to read the next one. Thanks, Philippa Gregory for an outstanding novel.