Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dark Tides continues Philippa Gregory's Fairmile saga in 17th-century England and America

Gregory continues her Fairmile saga, following the atmospheric Tidelands (2019), by casting a broad arc spanning the Old and New Worlds and adding a mysterious, disruptive new character. 

In 1670, Alinor Reekie and her daughter, Alys, reside in London, where Alinor practices herbalism and Alys runs a small wharf. Then Sir James Avery, Alinor’s faithless former lover, returns hoping to marry her, and Livia, her son Rob’s Italian wife, shows up with her baby, claiming that Rob drowned in Venice. Expressing disappointment in her in-laws’ low social status, Livia settles into their home and insinuates herself into the family business, and Alinor doesn’t trust her. 

In distant New England, Alinor’s brother, Ned, seeks peace as tension stirs between colonists and the Indians. His tale, while evocatively illustrating English-Native relations and the English Civil War’s far-reaching aftereffects, feels disconnected from the juicier story of uncovering exactly what Livia’s endgame is. 

Resolute and proud of her working-class heritage, Alinor remains enigmatically compelling. Answers arrive via an unexpected avenue as the plot heats up, with dramatic twists aplenty.

Dark Tides is published this month by Atria/Simon & Schuster; I reviewed it initially for the 10/15/20 issue of Booklist (reprinted with permission).  

I'd previously reviewed Tidelands last September. Comparing the two, I prefer Tidelands.  Livia is a character I found extremely irritating, although to be fair, Alinor feels the same (in other words, she's written that way). And I expected the stories set in New England and London to connect more than they did, but apart from letters and occasionally goods moving across the Atlantic, they're essentially separate.  I did appreciate the New World storyline, though, as it delves into an aspect of history rarely covered in historical fiction.


  1. I've been really anticipating this release because Tidelands was such an interesting story and I'm curious to see how Gregory continues to develop this series. Thanks for the review!

  2. Hope you'll enjoy it, Jordan!