The Wise Woman

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3 stars on this one - Author Philippa Gregory

Ex-historical re-enactors should never read historical novels!

I found this rather ordinary. It's the story of a young woman with the power of witchcraft in the age of Henry VIII. She flees her home in a nunnery as it is burned to the ground, leaving the woman she considers to be her mother to die in the flames. She goes on to fall in love with the man who burned the nunnery to the ground. (OK, love is blind, yaddayadda) and uses her powers to rise in rank, believing that she will one day be his lady.

As an anti-heroine, she's pretty poor. Where Scarlet O'hara in Gone with the Wind was a complete bitch, you nevertheless had to admire her guts. This ant-heroine doesn't have the backbone or any feelings of responsibility to others and I spent most of the novel waiting for the silly bint to get her comeuppance.

It has its moments though, the threefold rule seems to apply (be careful of your curses, they may bounce back threefold) and though she may have sold her soul to the devil, the devil appears to have laughed all the way to the bank. The false pregnancy and the wax foetus were quite horrifying and made up the most memorable part of the book, though the wax (voodoo style) puppets that she made could have been used to greater effect.

From the historical side, there seemed to be some confusion over the difference between paper and vellum and it didn't ring true when one the characters admitted to not having been to church for many years, this being an age when non attendance at church resulted in a fine.

Altogether, reasonably entertaining, but not a book I'd rave about.