By Philippa Gregory
** Publication Date 24 November 2020 **
Book reviews are always subjective. Philippa Gregory is a fabulous novelist and the stories are well written. But try as a might, this book was a challenge for me to finish. Perhaps because I hadn’t read Tidelands, I wasn’t completely invested in the characters. Or maybe it was because this book came on the heels of reading and reviewing four fluffy Christmas novels. Whatever the case, I did not love this book.
Dark Tides follows the Reekie and Stoney family in the 1670s. Alinor is the matriarch. She lives in a wharf side warehouse with her daughter Alys who runs the family business, shipping cargo. There are two children, Johnnie and Sarah, who are apprenticing for their future jobs, Johnnie as a sort of account in the shipping industry, and Sarah as a milliner.
Alinor’s brother Ned has moved to the “new country” because he could not live under a King any longer. He has settled in the town of Hadley, somewhere in New England. He is called “ferryman” as he is responsible for the ferry that takes both natives and settlers across the river. He is friendly with the natives, trading and learning from them. This is not widely accepted by the settlers. But Ned’s story almost appears as a secondary novel within a novel. There is not much interaction between Ned and Alinor.
Suddenly one day a woman in black clothing appears at the doorstep of the wharf side warehouse. She is the Nobildonna de Ricci come to live with her family in England after her husband, Alinor’s son Rob, has perished, drowning in the waters off Venice. Rob had gone there to train as a physician. She brings with her a nursemaid and their son, Matteo.
So there you have it. The background on the entire clan that will be featured in this novel. The most fascinating, and unlikeable, character in the novel is definitely the Nobildonna. The story is a good one in the final third of the novel, where it picks up speed. The first two thirds of the novel definitely are more slow and steady. Which is why I am giving this 3.5 stars. I felt that the story was a good one in the end, but it was just so slow and tedious to get there.