Tidelands (The Fairmile Series)
This is the first installment in a new series from seasoned historical novelist Gregory, in which she focuses on what the lives of everyday people might have been like centuries ago. The characters all live in the Tidelands, a part of England that can't be mapped because land and water are constantly shifting due to the movement of the tides. They live on an island accessible only by ferry; there's one way in, one way out, and one family that controls all these comings and goings. The unstable mood and atmosphere permeate the story, and Louise Brealey's narration draws you right in to this world. In the background, King Charles is imprisoned on the Isle of Wight, but the story centers on a midwife and herbalist whose husband's follies have plunged her into a socially and economically perilous position. I tried this book out of curiosity, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
The #1 New York Times bestselling author and “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, who cannot bear to conform to the life that lies before her.
Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, England is in the grip of a civil war between renegade king and rebellious parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even the remote tidelands —the marshy landscape of the south coast.
Alinor, a descendant of wisewomen, trapped in 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 neighbors. 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.
It is dangerous for a woman to be different.