DARK TIDES BY PHILIPPA GREGORY

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REVIEWS

Neville Hartnell

I have to admit an historical novel would not be my first choice of read, however this book leads you straight into a number of plots and keeps you engrossed throughout, providing an intriguing insight into the times, with a most enjoyable read.

Sue Mitchell

A fascinating insight into a period in history written from a different perspective - the ‘ Venetians’ - not just the mighty explorers and conquerors we have heard about but a sadistic and brutal institution.

Sam Moore

I did not realise that this novel was the second in a series. Initially I found the past events to be mystifying and will read the previous novel. Once I got over the references to the past lives of Alinor, Ned and Alys, I started to make sense of the book. Livia is certainly a piece of work-what an intriguing character she is; Is she the heartbroken widow and Mother that she portrays, or is she a scheming, lying social climber who will do anything for money? Sir James is another complex character, is his child still alive? Can he ever be reconciled with Alinor? Into this mix comes Alys’ twins Johnnie and Sarah, although for me a question mark hangs over their origins. In New England Alinor's brother Ned is trying to settle but he is besieged with doubts about the treatment of the native people, some of the details of their struggle are harrowing. As the book reaches its conclusion, Sarah goes to Venice to uncover Livia's past and finds where her Uncle Robert is incarcerated and the truth about Livia. This book really races along, I love the contrast between London, New England and Venice, actually how organised the societies were is amazing.

KF Kelly

The story, or rather two stories, take place over a period from midsummer 1670 to February 1671.The main story is set in the docklands of London and later, in Venice, while the second story takes place in the American colony of New England. Without giving too much away, a woman claiming to be a widow arrives in London from Venice and settles herself on the family of her late husband. She is a sharp operator and soon takes advantage of her newly found family by using them to help her import antiquities from Venice. She intends to sell these and make her fortune. I enjoyed the description of the Englishwomen running their small business and the hardships they faced. The American part of the story I found strange. It was very interesting to read of the Puritan Colonies and the treatment of the native population. For a while I wondered how the two strands of the novel would be linked but eventually it became clear that this would not happen. It would be possible to read the London/Venice part on its own by more or less missing every other chapter with virtually no effect on the plot and similarly, the American strand could be followed without reference to the other. There was a kind of resolution to both stories but there seemed to be many loose ends that would perhaps be followed in future novels.

Irene Kane

The story begins in 1670 when two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the South side of the River Thames. The first is James Avery, a wealthy man seeking the child that his lover was expecting when he deserted her 21 years before. He is wealthy and is in favour with the newly restored King Charles 1 but he has no heir. His wants to claim the child and offer marriage to Alinor who is now a poor warehouse owner. The second visitor is a beautiful manipulative widow from Venice who claims Alinor as her mother-in-law, telling her that her son Rob drowned in Venice. Alinor writes to her brother Ned in New England, telling him she is sure that Rob is alive, and the widow Is an imposter. The story is set in London, Venice and the frontier of early America. It is a tale of greed and desire for love, wealth, a child and a home.

David Moran

This novel follows mother and daughter, Alinor and Alys as they strive to make a living in post Cromwell England. We are then introduced to Livia, a scheming Italian lady claiming to be the widow of Alinor's son. Her deceitful nature is in stark contrast to the honesty of the other women. You despise her and are also amazed by her and desperate to race through the pages to see if she gets her deserved comeuppance. At the same time, we follow Alinor's brother Ned as he carves a new life among the Northern American natives. This side of the novel has a gentler pace but nonetheless enchanting as we gain insight into the lives of the Pokanoket people and their treatment by English immigrants. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, opening to me parts of history I knew little about. I would recommend this novel as one to lose yourself in.

Nigel Price

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this book and gave up a quarter of the way through. I just found the plot took too long to get going and didn’t grab me. I rarely give up on a book so early and usually see it through to the end. Perhaps I should have read Tidelands first then I may have been hooked.

Ruth Moore

It is over 30 years since I read a Philippa Gregory novel and I enjoyed the story and appreciated the amount of research involved. It was obvious who the 'villain of the piece' was - much smarter than those around her - and I wondered that Alys had any success in running a business as she was so easily taken in. On the first page it says that Philippa Gregory is 'a recognised authority on women's history ' so the women in this - and presumably, her other novels are the main characters. I did enjoy the chapters about Ned and his interactions with the Native Americans - and to read in the authors notes that some of the characters in the New World were based on real people who had fled England after the Restoration. The one paragraph that stood out for me was not actually in the novel - but part of the last paragraph in the author's notes: “The present seems to echo the past to tell us that we will only survive if we live tolerantly and generously with each other, treating nature with respect and welcoming strangers as did the Pokanoket, imagining a better world like Ned and the Mayflower generation.”