An increasingly compelling read, even more enjoyable for me than its prequel. Book #2 in Philippa Gregory’s four-novel “Fairmile” series picks up the family in 1670, more than twenty years after the previous 2019 book, TIDELANDS, ends. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
Alinor’s brother, Ned, is off to New England, establishing a new life. In England, the interregnum rule of Oliver Cromwell is over and King Charles II has been restored to the throne, along with the family holdings of Sir James Avery. Alinor is now middle aged, living with her daughter Alys and Alys’s adult children, Sarah and Rob, both nearing the end of their apprenticeships.
The London-based family now runs a small business along the wharf, barely managing financially when a beautiful, ambitious, and mysterious Venetian woman suddenly arrives at their door, with an infant in tow. She identifies herself as the grief-stricken widow of Alinor’s brother, Rob, recently drowned and she’s eager to join their family.
Though that sets the scene, not all is as it seems. And the rest of the book travels from busy London to secretive Venice to new settlements in Hadley, Massachusetts — as each member of this family tries to uncover the truth behind appearances. Along the way, we learn a bit about the English market for antiquities, the classism of British society, mounting tensions between settlers and indigenous people in America, the strength of a mother’s intuition, and the persistence of an old lover’s guilt.
It’s quite a tale. I love how it unfolds and I only had one significant issue, which happens late in the book concerning one character’s turnaround, which to me, simply did not seem plausible. Not enough of a problem, however, to spoil this original historical novel. And I’m looking forward to the next two volumes.
More about the prolific author, Philippa Gregory.
You may be interested in my review of the first book in this series, TIDELANDS.