Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Review: Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Pages: 464
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: November 24, 2020
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Tidelands, The White Queen,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse's poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.  The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.  Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter  Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home."
The last thing readers remember about Alinor is the fact that she is leaving her home for good.  She was tried as a witch and after a near death experience, her and her family make their way to London.  Readers meet the Reekie family again in the bustling city of London, but twenty some years later.  Not much has changed except for the fact that they run a warehouse that helps them pay the bills. They still struggle a bit, but are able to keep a modest roof over their heads.  Since twenty years have gone by, Alys is now a mature woman and Sarah and Johnnie are adults working to bring home money for the family. There are two unexpected visitors. First in walks James Avery back into their lives with the hope for redemption and then walks Livia; she is claiming to be Rob's widow and says that she is lost without him as he has drowned in Venice. Alinor knows her son and she finds it very odd that Rob, a physician and someone who grew up by the water, could have possibly drowned.  However, Livia swears it, is clearly distraught, and brings Rob's son with her.  Alys falls immediately for Livia's charms and the family now has to provide for yet another person.  Livia has big plans for the family and hopes to get them out of what she declares is squalor by selling off her dowry from her first husband who is a renowned art collector.  There are also many chapters dedicated to Alinor's brother, Ned, who now lives in the New World and his section includes many of his adventures there with Native Americans.  Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory is a somewhat satisfying addition to the Farmile series. While I didn't enjoy it as much as Tidelands, I am still very much invested in the world and the characters that Gregory created.

In Tidelands, Alinor plays a major role in the story, but in Dark Tides she is more of a secondary character.  She still hasn't recovered from her near drowning and her health struggles.  What remains strong is her psychic ability; she doesn't fully believe that Rob has died. In addition, she doesn't trust Livia, much to Alys's dismay.  
Alys plays a major role in Dark Tides. She completely falls into Livia's web as she is longing for companionship and another adult to help bear the burden of everyday life.  However, she is completely blind to Livia's motives and allows herself to be treated in a very unhealthy manner. Alys seriously frustrated me to no end in Dark Tides.  On the other hand, Sarah is a secondary character in Dark Tides that towards the end of the novel ends up playing a stronger role in the story. I truly enjoyed her section of the novel. I don't want to give too much away, but I was definitely drawn to her story more than the other characters.

Ned's sections in Dark Tides felt like an entirely different novel. I wasn't interested in the least bit regarding his adventures in the New World or his interactions with the Native Americans. I just felt like it didn't really add to the story or push the plot along. I am sure maybe in book three there will be more of a connection to this, but for now it just felt really disjointed.

Gregory does a great job of bringing London and Venice to life in Dark Tides. Gregory is masterful at what she does and creates such a vivid world. Even though I felt some parts of the story were slow, specifically Ned's, and some other parts were a bit repetitive, like Livia's blatantly obvious lies, I still really enjoyed Dark Tides and look forward to book three.  

So, are you a fan of Philippa Gregory's novels? Did you read Tidelands? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  



  1. I have to admit, I DNFed Tidelands, although I'm a huge Gregory fan!

    1. Yeah, I can see how this series isn't for everyone. It took me awhile to get into Tidelands, but I swear it does get better! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. I thought Ned’s plot line was a thought-provoking bookend to the analysis of religious fervor in Tidelands.

  3. I’m halfway through and whilst having trouble getting into Ned’s part I am also really disliking Livia. This is the first time a Gregory novel has made me consider giving up halfway through! But I’ll carry on and see it through.. hope it gets better..

    1. Word. I’m 20% in and calling it quits

  4. I’m 20% into the book (Dark Tides) and having a hard time choking through it. Trying to decide if the writing style has changed or if it’s that I just not interested enough in this story to make it worth the effort. Such a shame because I am definitely a fan of Philippa Gregory’s work. It’s so bad I just googled to see if James Avery ends up with annoyingly shallow and self serving Livia. Wish there was a refund from Kindle, because I would get something else.


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