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Dark Tides - Philippa Gregory

I'm actually 185 pages into this novel already, so I apologise that I haven't fully shared my reading experience of this one with you in real-time. There is good reason however, but I'm not going to jump straight into that yet.

Philippa Gregory is an amazing author with an undisputable talent for creating historical fiction so close to the known facts that you inevitably come away from her novels feeling like you've just had a history lesson disguised as fiction. In fact her work is so good that many of her novels have been adapted for the screen. Awarded a CBE for services to literature and charity, Gregory has been listed as one of my favourite authors since I read The Wideacre Trilogy many years ago. It is for that reason that, when I decided to step back into reading for non-academic purposes, Gregory seemed like the natural go-to author.

There are a couple of things I need to point out here: firstly, my love of Philippa Gregory novels were restricted to her Plantagenet series and other Royal-based historical fiction novels, this is the first time I've ventured out of that genre into her other work. Secondly, I accidentally (unforgivable error for a literature major here) picked up the second book of the Fairmile series, having not read the first, Tidelands. It hasn't affected my following of the plot at all, however once I realised my error I was too far in to abandon the book and start the first and now feel like I've cheated myself of the true experience.

And so here I am approximately halfway though, punishing Dark Tides for my own error by not letting myself truly engage with the text. It's a good tale set on two continents with some amazing insights into the indigenous people of America in the seventeenth century. I definitely find myself fascinated by the historical context, however I can't help but wonder at this point if it is only that history that is keeping me going. Every time the tale jumps back over to London, I am a little disappointed. I'm not interested in Livia and her antiquities, I want to read more about Ned and his interactions with Quiet Squirrel and his kin. Maybe I need to stop here and read Tidelands in order to bond with the London-based characters before moving forward? It's certainly food-for-thought.. but I know that once I publish this post I will pick up Dark Tides and continue reading - the next chapter is in New England and I know I won't be able to resist!


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