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Dawnlands

Review

Dawnlands

In the spring of 1685, Ned Ferryman is boarding a boat in Boston, heading home to England and hopeful that his country is ready for the change that he knows needs to happen, when he is reacquainted with a Pokanoket tribe member he once knew. Unwilling to let Rowan be sold into slavery, he buys her with the intention of helping her find freedom once he’s away from the colonies. She accompanies him to London, eventually following him as he joins the rebel army that is forming against King James II.

"While it is possible to read this book as a stand-alone, you will miss some wonderfully rich details. I very much enjoyed how Gregory built up this family and the drama that surrounds them all."

While Ned is sowing the seeds of rebellion, his sister, Alinor Reekie, and her daughter, Alys Shore, are quietly running their small business at the wharf. Having grown up poor, Alys is aware of every penny in the cashbox and hyperaware of the need to keep her family’s past in the past. With dislike for King James II and his wife growing, the city of London is on alert and on the brink of a civil war. When Livia Avery shows up on their doorstep again, Alys is less than pleased to see her and the trouble that she knows will follow. Livia has ensconced herself with the new queen, so having her associated with the family is a chance that Alys would rather not take.

Livia has made herself indispensable to the new queen and is now looking to help her son, Matthew, who has been living as the Shores’ foster son all these years. Matthew barely knows his mother, but she’s aiming to change that. With a little convincing, Livia gets the queen to bequeath Foulmire to him, essentially bringing Alinor and Alys home to the Tidelands and resurfacing all the memories they put behind them. Matthew knows nothing of the past and is thrilled to be able to share this new good fortune with his family. It’s also a way for Livia to keep him close, which he doesn’t quite realize, but it’s a game that Alinor and Alys know only too well.

The novel ebbs and flows much like the tides. The rebellion is rising, civil war is on the horizon, and sides are being taken. While slow at first, the story builds throughout, leaving you to wonder if Ned will survive the rebellion, if Alinor will finally be reunited with her one great love, if Rowan will make it back to her beloved home, and if Livia’s schemes eventually will bring her to ruin.

DAWNLANDS is the third entry in Philippa Gregory’s Fairmile series, following TIDELANDS and DARK TIDES. While it is possible to read this book as a stand-alone, you will miss some wonderfully rich details. I very much enjoyed how Gregory built up this family and the drama that surrounds them all. There are so many intertwined relationships, and you’re truly left wondering how Livia will interfere next and if Matthew will finally see his mother the way that the rest of his family does.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on November 22, 2022

Dawnlands
by Philippa Gregory

  • Publication Date: November 8, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 150118721X
  • ISBN-13: 9781501187216