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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2005
I have read other Phillipa Gregory novels and really enjoyed them, especially The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool. Sadly this book was a real let down. The historical detail is interesting but the characters are dislikable and behave in a bizarre fashion most of the time. The main character, Alys and the male lead Hugo, frankly deserve each other as they are self obsessed and self destructive. The book is full of explicit sex scenes far more so than the other novels by this author which I have read. I was not shocked by this but felt they added little to the narrative and proved a poor compensation for unadequate character development.
I do like the work of Phillipa Gregory but would not recommend this particular novel. If you want a good story read The Other Boleyn Girl, The Respectable Trade or The Queen's Fool and give this one a miss.
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on 19 December 2006
I have read many of Philippa Gregorys book, but they have all been historical novels, so i looked forward to reading this one as it isn't. I thought the book was great and didnt want to put it down. You start off feeling sorry for Alys, but i have to say by the middle I thought she was very conniving. The ending is quite abrupt, but i actually liked it, as Alys let her true feelings come out. I have only just read all the other reviews and am surprised that it has so many bad ones. It is not like 'The Other Boleyn Girl' or 'The Queens Fool', but not all her books can be like that. And I thought introducing the white magic/herbalism was great as they did do that then. I think the wax dolls and sexual encounters were just tricks of the mind and herb Alys used. I would recommend this book to people but dont expect a historical novel, as it isn't one. I loved it.
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on 16 September 2004
I was looking forward to getting 'lost' in this book, as I had with "The Other Bolyen Girl" and "The Queen's Fool", both of which I could barely put down once started. With this book, I found myself challenged to get through a chapter each night. I really didn't care much about any of the characters, and because the action is all set in the castle, it felt claustrophobic. Unlike her other Tudor novels, I didn't feel that Gregory painted a convincing picture of everyday life in the reign of Henry VIII. The book is certainly 'different', but rather dull.
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on 18 April 2003
This is such an interesting book as the back of the book doesn't give away all the themes, and it is nice to be surprised when you're reading. This is a historical fiction book, but doesn't have famous people in it like The Other Boleyn Girl. However, the events from that book affect the characters in this story in their marriages, religion, and deaths. As in The Other Boleyn Girl, the author uses modern language which I liked as it doesn't take away the meaning of their thoughts on "Ye and thou" etc. The use of witchcraft and Alys as a herbalist/healer is a central theme to the story, and is fascinating how blurred the roles are. She is wanted as a healer but if anything goes wrong, it's witchcraft. Knowing about drugs as we do now we can take our judgment on some of the instances. But the consequences of the wax dolls is quite surreal and frightening at times. The corruption of Alys after escaping the nunnery shows the desire and greed of the other characters and their influence on Alys is great. This is a very good read.
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on 12 March 2003
set in a time of poltical unrest, it is diffecult to pick up any inaccuracies from a plot that does not immdeiately involve famous people like in her book 'The Other Boleyn Girl'.
it is both unlifting and sad as you see the main character Alys fall deeper and deeper into sin when faced with the real world with corruption and desire everywhere.
Gregory paints a wonderful atmosphere of life in the early Tudor peroid with the focus on one small region efected by the sudden changes that came with Henry VIII.
the reader follows Alys from her running from the nunnery to having to set up herself in the hotbed that is a nobel's court life. As she falls deeper and deeper into sin through witchcraft and desire, there is the nagging thought of what she would do next and whether she will ever truely redeem herself.
the mentions of witchcraft are dubious in this age where the craft is not believed in but help to carry the story on in a brilliant way.
not only are the characters realistic and wonderfully portrayed. adn the little details add to making you feel like you area actually there, in the place so far away from Henry, but so adversly afected by it.
a brilliant and utterly thoughtful piece that keeps you reading, and warms the fibres of your body.
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on 4 March 2004
Having utterly adored The Other Boleyn Girl, I was very much looking forward to this and wasn't disappointed. The plot was totally absorbing, the characters well drawn and I found it interesting that our "heroine" became less and less likeable and more mired in sin, desire and greed as the book went along. Such a refreshing change from authors who are afraid to make their main characters unsympathetic. In contrast to the other reviewers, I didnt feel that her fall from grace was totally the fault of the situation that Alys found herself in (the castle and its inhabitants etc) as she quite clearly had her eye on the main chance from an early age when, without a second thought, she ditched her loved ones for the relative comfort and luxury of the nunnery.
However, I was a little bit disappointed by the ending. Having built everything up so superbly well, it felt rushed, ill thought out and left a couple of the most interesting plot devices unresolved (specifically the return of Morach for a reckoning with Alys and those terrifyingly sinister wax dolls).
All in all, fantastic and absorbing but with a slightly disappointing ending.
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on 7 November 2015
What a brilliant story, -- I'll read anything by Philippa Gregory, though this was "a bit different" from her usual books as the story and characters are completely fictitious, though it captures the superstitions and beliefs of the Tudor era wonderfully well, and I literally found it "hard to put down" which rarely happens to me. ------ A BIT RUDE IN PLACES ----- a marvellous tale with a STUNNING ending. {more please Philipa} FANTASTIC
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on 21 April 2016
I have read many of Philippa Gregory's books and loved every one of them but this is a very unpleasant theme and although as ever a page turner I cannot say that this is a pleasant book to read. I was glad to finish it. Also it was far too long and far too repetitive .
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on 28 February 2015
I paid 'a lot' from my pension to buy an ex-library, audio cassette version of this book (which turned out to be pristine in condition - and there endeth the good points!) I did so because I already had some of Philippa Gregory's great Tudor tales. BIG mistake! This is nothing like what I have come to expect from this author. Where do I start!
It was badly written, long and laborious and going around in a seemingly unbroken chain of events, like the proverbial snake holding on to it's tail! I'm no prude but omg, how she dwelt on the continually recurring perverted sex acts - very boring; if I'd wanted that kind of rubbish I'd have bought Fifty Shades of Grey (and that's never going to happen either!)
As for the Tudors, through all the tortuous boredom I heard Henry, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour's names briefly mentioned maybe 3-4 times ...and that was it!
On the witchy side of things - big disappointment there, too! Having been a Wiccan my entire life I hated the way she interpreted the working of the village Wise Women; she made her 'heroine' sound more like a nastier version of Maleficent!
I will not be re-reading this yarn again, nor would I even consider recommending it! ...What a waste of precious pound coins...!
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on 19 September 2008
I was majorly dissapointed when I finished reading this book earlier on this afternoon. The story has the promise of being extremely exciting and the ending highly anticipated. When you come towards the end of the book you realise that a lot of loose ends will not be concluded despite the 600+ pages and the story doesn't seem to be coming towards a climax with 10 pages to go. This book had the makings of a book I wouldn't put down but sadly I wish I hadn't picked it up.
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