Martin's Must Reads: 'Tidelands'

Feb 11, 2020

“Some of us find remarkable echoes of our own modern lives in the historical past, as if we have inherited gifts or skills or preferences. Most families are like my family: with the earliest documents showing a family as humble and poor and, by little ordinary acts of courage and years of perseverance, largely unrecorded, rising and prospering - and sometimes, of course, declining.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a quote from Philippa Gregory’s Author’s Note to her latest historical novel Tidelands. Gregory is best known for her historical novels based on the lives of the Plantagenet and Tudor royal women.

Tidelands is a break from that and promises to be the first of several novels tracing the life of a poor, ordinary fishwife and her family. The story begins in June of 1648 in an obscure English village during the English Civil War.

Alinor, mother to Alys and Rob has been deserted by her abusive husband and works from sunup to sundown at many menial jobs to support her family. She’s also a midwife and a herbalist that daily fights accusations of being a witch.

On Midsummer Eve she meets Father James, a royalist and spy for the king and helps him escape discovery. What begins as a friendship blossoms into something more and further complicates Alinor’s life. Alinor is a strong courageous woman of integrity who will go to any lengths to protect and provide for her children.

If you want to read the story of a strong woman during a tumultuous time in English history, then you must read Tidelands by Philippa Gregory.