The Wise Woman: A Novel Paperback – May 27 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The author of the Wideacre trilogy presents a historical romance about a 16th-century English witch.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This new novel by the author of Wideacre (S. & S., 1987) and other popular historical fiction profiles a woman versed in charms, conjuring, and fortune-telling who nonetheless falls into catastrophic misfortunes time after time. Escaping from an English convent, young Alys learns the arts of healing and magic from the "wise woman" who takes her in. Her struggle to find an independent life takes her among an array of characters, including a mediocre lover, a sickly old man still very much in control of the lives around him, and two challenging women: Marach and Mother Hildebrande. Gregory weaves a vivid tapestry of life in the 16th century, including plenty of sex, as the narrative strains toward a not-unexpected end.
- M.E. Chitty, Fairchild International Lib. Inst. , Plainfield, N.J.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book depicts a depraved justice system as well as negative attitudes towards women at the time. The two main female characters in the book derived worth from the fact that they were pregnant with a son presumably.
1. This book is for mature readers only.
2. This is her edgiest work yet.
While others found the subject matter off-putting, I was just the opposite. I found it hugely entertaining and so completely engrossing that once I started this novel, I couldn't put it down for a second. One section in particular, I won't elaborate and spoil the story, actually made my skin crawl. I can't remember the last time a book had that effect on me. Maybe the difference is that I don't actually believe in witch craft or spiritual powers, and therefore saw it as a completely fictional story. I was able to just enjoy the plot, rather than worrying about the subject matter.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is mature enough to deal with the subject matter. Hard Core Witch Craft, Intense sex and Unrepentant violence. I equate it to just about any HBO show, so if you like HBO, you'll probably like this book.
Also, if you enjoyed this book, you'll really like the "Wideacre" trilogy (also by Phillipa Gregory). It is more tame than 'the wise woman', but it has some pretty crazy plot lines of it's own.
That said, I did realize this book was a departure. Even its edgeness didn't put me off, I was expecting some spells and witchcraft.
What put me off was believing in the main character's motivation. I couldn't get around the idea that a girl who had no knowledge of her hertitage and who was first raised in terrible poverty and then taken in with great love at a nunnery could end up being such a deceitful grasping liar. It didn't jive. Even later when Alys' madness becomes evident her desires for position and power weren't well enough grounded with a good reason for me to believe it.
Yes, the book was a page turner. I wanted to know what was going to happen. But half way through the book, as other reviewers noted, the book takes a dark turn--which I wasn't expecting--and Alys character becomes progressively less likeable from that point on. Then, as another reviewer pointed out, we cease to care what happened to her. Even a dark character can have some likeable part about them but I believe Alys fails to hold the reader to root for her whether she's good or bad.
Her redemption at the end is even barely believeable from a character who flip flops her loyalties one minute to the next.
There wasn't a lot of historical info on the Tudors but there were interesting descriptions of castle life, clothing, and meal time traditions that were nicely blended into the story.
This book was okay, but at the half way point I read it quickly and skipped pages just to finish.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an odd book in that it is totally devoid of any sympathetic characters. I believe it accurately portrays the predicament of women during the 16th century and gives some... Read morePublished 5 months ago by robkamm
This book is one of the best books I've ever read, I couldn't put it down. It does deal with mature themes so I wouldn't recommend it for a very young person but what do you expect... Read morePublished on April 22 2012 by Elisha
The main character is 16 years old but don't let that fool you. Half way through the book you come to realize this book is not what you thought it was and totally inappropriate... Read morePublished on July 30 2009 by Melody
I sum up my opinion of this book simply: had this been the first Phillipa Gregory book that I had read, I would have never gone on to read "The Queen's Fool" or "The Other Boleyn... Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2005
Wise Woman is a brilliant,wickedly honest addition to the midieval genre. After reading this I had to read all of Philippa Gregory's novels. Read morePublished on April 6 2004 by Philip Bewley