Review: Dark Tides (The Fairmile #2) by Philippa Gregory

When I saw Tidelands was coming out, I was so excited. I wanted to read something by Philipa Gregory so badly and I jumped at the chance to read Tidelands. But I came away feeling a little underwhelmed.

Most of the time, I love Gregory’s novels and have really enjoyed how rich and nuanced her history, characters, and romances are but in this one, I just felt like the story itself was cumbersome and dry.

However, at the end of Tidelands I felt invested enough in the characters and the story to continue reading the series, in hopes that it would get better and the characters more exciting along with the story. So I leapt at the chance to read this installment of the series.


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 (summary from Goodreads)


I think one of the things the surprised me about this novel was that I expected it to be better and it just wasn’t. In the first book, there was a lot of ground work that needed to be laid for the characters and their ultimate choices, however in this book I hoped that things would pick up more and that there would be more in the way of actual plot rather the ground laying. But this one read equally as slow as the first book. Tidelands had a lot of atmosphere and this one just didn’t have the same level of atmosphere as I had hoped and frankly expected in this one.

Gregory has such a knack for writing great atmosphere and Tidelands was no exception but this one just lacked a lot of mood and atmosphere. In the first book, I didn’t love the characters. In fact most of them I didn’t enjoy in the least but at the same time I could sympathize with the women who in the story because they simply lacked ‘good’ options in that time so they did the best they could. But in this one I hoped for more redemption of the characters and I just never felt like I obtained any redemption, in fact I ended up disliking some of them more in this one than I did in the first book.

I also felt like Ned’s story was completely pointless to the larger narrative. In the first book I thought he would bring more to this next installment but he just didn’t and I was actually sad about that because even though I didn’t like him, I did want to see how and if he could impact the larger story.

So where does that leave me with this book? On one hand, I didn’t love it but on the other hand I did finish it so I liked it enough to keep reading but I didn’t love it enough to give it anything over 2.5 stars. It was ok but I don’t know that I loved it in the way I had hoped.

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 464 pages

Expected publication: November 24th 2020 by Atria Books

ISBN150118718X (ISBN13: 9781501187186)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Atria Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Genre: historical fiction


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