Review: Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Title: Dark Tides {Fairmile #2}

Author: Philippa Gregory

Published: 24th November 2020, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read December 2020 courtesy Simon & Schuster


My Thoughts:

Dark Tides is the second book in Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction series, The Fairmile, and begins twenty one years after Tidelands ends.

Alinor Reekie and her daughter, Alys, have long left Sealsea Island behind and now reside on the banks of the Thames River, operating a small warehouse that services unlading ships. Alinor, who has has never regained full health after the near drowning she endured, supplements the family’s income with herbal preparations, while Alys’s children, twins Johnnie and Sarah, contribute what they can from their wages as apprentices. They live simply, honestly, and quietly, but unexpected visitors suddenly throw the family into turmoil.

The first of their visitors is James Avery aka James Summers, the man who deserted Alinor at her most vulnerable, leaving her heartbroken and pregnant. Having recovered his title and family fortune, and recently widowed, he is seeking the child he assumes Alinor birthed, desperately desiring an heir.

The second visitor brings tragic news, calling herself Nobildonna Livia da Ricci, with a babe in her arms, she claims to be the widow of Rob, Alinor’s son. Tearfully she tells the family Rob, who was practicing as a doctor in Venice, drowned in a boating accident and now she has come to England to raise their son as an Englishman.

To be honest I’m as disappointed by this sequel as I was surprised by Tidelands. Alinor is reduced to a minor character, I never much cared for Alys, and care for her even less here. Avery is still a fool, Livia and her machinations are entirely transparent, and Sarah’s potential is squandered.

I could have forgiven a lot if the plot hadn’t turned out to be almost wholly predictable, it’s immediately clear that Livia can’t be trusted and the story pivots around her obvious deceptions.

Additionally the story itself largely lacks the atmospheric appeal of Tidelines, Gregory uses not more than broad strokes to describe the life along the Thames, and I felt she gave Venice short shrift.

There is a second storyline that runs through the book which features Ned, Alinor’s brother, who fled to the New World (America) when Cromwell was unseated and a new King retook the throne. While I had some interest in Ned’s experience, there was very little action, and though the theme’s echoed that of his sister’s story, the storyline as a whole was superfluous.

I realise my assessment here is quite harsh, but I am struggling to find anything particularly positive to say. I did finish it, so it wasn’t unreadable, but I don’t think it was any more than barely okay, though I’m sure others will disagree.


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Also by Philippa Gregory reviewed at Book’d Out