Friday, March 6, 2015

The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory

Man, I am having a very hard time remembering how to spell Philippa Gregory's name. Every time, I have to google her name, then copy and paste it into the title. This time, I noticed her picture next to the google search bar.

I did not expect her to look like that. It's not like she looks bad, or ugly, but I definitely had this different idea of her. Like, her nose would be smaller, and her hair was much more coiffed. Maybe pearls and lipstick? I just thought maybe Philippa Gregory would be into wearing these things often. Like, a Jessica Lang type? (I legit thought that actress' name was Angela Lansbury. The names don't even sound REMOTELY alike.) 

I do object against the picture they selected for when people search for her. Maybe she doesn't mind it, but the other pictures of her in images are far more flattering. 


So, used Book Fairs seem to have an abundance of Philippa Gregory books (and lack of Octavia Butler's books, but I digress) and so, next on the list is The Wise Woman.  Upon research on her website, this is a stand alone novel, which is unusual for her. This book, is much more magical than the other books I have read and whereas other historical books mention magic and supernaturals as sources of superstition, this book actually uses magic. So, this book is more of historical fantasy rather than historical fiction. It also has a splash of horror. (Read: really creeeeepy wax figurines and an equally creepy birth scene.) 

Like all of her books, it is centered around women and women's relationships with each other and with the men, who mostly have all the power, in their lives. The main character is Alys, who flees after her nunnery catches fire. She does not warn her fellow sisters and the Abbess and that guilt plagues her for most of the book. She goes back to the Wise Woman (get it? That's the name of the novel) named Morach, who cared for her before she went into the nunnery. Morach disapproves of her past choices and encourages her by any means necessary, to regain power in her life by using the power she has within her. 

Now what that means takes the reader through a topsy turvy adventure where by the end, the reader (namely me) does not sympathized with any of the main characters, most of all Alys. Gregory can definitely write a very good story arc. Though normally I am not into unsympathetic protagonists (is it called the anti-hero? I don't remember), and I found myself rolling my eyes at Alys' decisions, I WAS INTO IT. I also had no idea where Gregory was going with this story, right up until the last moment. 

This book had many layers to it that seemed to be lacking from her other books, like The Boleyn Inheritance. I found that book enjoyable as well, but something about the historical background of Henry VIII burning down Catholic buildings, on top of her history as a nun, then back as a wise woman, and then her life at the castle, on top of her relationships with the women in her life and how it all seems at the mercy of men, it was just... kept me engaged. 

So, I recommend this book if you like history, fantasy, well rounded women and an unsuspecting ending. Also if you like weird wax figurines. Cause there are a lot of THOSE in the book. 

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