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Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Set in 1670, this is a novel that goes from a shabby warehouse on the southside of the River Thames in England, to the canals of Venice and to the shores of New England.

James Avery is a wealthy man when he knocks on the door of a London warehouse. He wants to see Alinor, the woman he loved but failed twenty-one years before. He has money, land and status, but he is missing something he can’t buy – his son and heir. Alinor runs an honest business with her family, but they live hand to mouth, so will Alinor be interested in James’ lands and titles?

But the same day James knocks on Alinor’s door, another person arrives also. Livia, a beautiful young woman from Venice, arrives with her baby son in her arms, claiming to be Alinor’s son’s widow. But Alinor is immediately suspicious of this young woman, and questions if her son Rob really died in the tides of a Venice lagoon. She makes plans to send her granddaughter to Venice to find out the real story. Meanwhile Livia is intent on importing statues of marble and bronze to sell to wealthy English landowners, and she soon has James Avery in her sights to help with her plans, spinning an intricate web of deceit in the process.

Meanwhile in New England, Alinor’s brother, finds his dreams are shattered when the King he rebelled against seeks his revenge across the ocean, turning the pioneers against each other.

While I didn’t find the story set in New England so compelling, the story set in London and Venice is gripping and very well done. It’s a nicely executed plot with memorable characters, capturing a unique time in history. As with all her books, Dark Tides is meticulously researched, but Philippa Gregory never lets the history get in the way of a page-turning read.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Simon & Schuster, RRP $37.99


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