03 December 2020

Review: Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory book cover
* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory is the second book in the historical fiction Fairmile series and picks up 21 years after the end of Tidelands. I was eagerly awaiting this release, but the huge time gap between books was a complete surprise. I was really looking forward to following Alinor and Alys as they left the mire with their cart and faced the dangers and challenges ahead.

Unfortunately, the reader picks up their story after these struggles and we find them with an established household working as poor wharfingers in a small warehouse on the south side of the Thames. Alinor has aged and while still very much the matriarch of the family, she is no longer the main character of the novel. Rob's widow arrives on their doorstep from Venice with her newborn baby and the devastating news he has drowned.

Alys and her daughter Sarah dominate the story along with the widow Livia, with intervening chapters from Alinor's brother Ned's point of view.

Ned has moved to New England and is quietly trying to eke out a living as a ferryman. There he finds himself caught between the settlers and the American Indians and his storyline is full of foreboding and dread about what is to come.

Ned's chapters were a complete contrast to the goings on in London and Venice and to be honest, I could have done without them. I typically don't enjoy reading about early settlement in the USA, so I didn't enjoy Ned's story in New England.

Back in London, wealthy widow Livia is turning the Reekie family on its head and I could tell it wasn't going to end well. Rob's widow is a well-written antagonist with some biting dialogue, but her storyline had an overbearing sense of a family betrayal brewing that made this reader feel uneasy.

The sense of foreboding evident in Tidelands is also present in Dark Tides, however the fact that all storylines were heading towards seemingly unavoidable disaster made this a worrisome read.

While there was ample foreshadowing throughout the novel, Gregory's signature writing talent was on full display. Here's a quote I enjoyed from very early on in the book:
"He thought the world was not whole anymore; but sundered into country and court, winners and the lost, protestants and heretics, royalists and roundheads, the unfairly blessed and the unjustly damned." Page 6
Themes of class and the divide between the poor and the wealthy were again brought into focus with the seemingly wealthy widow's disappointment and shock at the Reekie family's position and living conditions and her desire to improve her station in life for the benefit of her son.

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory is recommended for historical fiction fans with an interest in 1670s London, Venice or New England, and those who enjoy investing in a good generational family saga. I look forward to the next installation of the Fairmile series.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

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