Although I haven’t read one of her books for quite a few years (until now), I am a big fan of historical author Philippa Gregory. Mainly known for writing Plantagenet and Tudor novels which I love, it used to be a bit of a joke between my friends and I some years ago that all I read was Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir books to feed my Tudor obsession. So the new novel Dawnlands is a bit of a departure from the Philippa Gregory novels that I am used to.
Not that that is a bad thing! Especially as this new novel explores the end of the turbulent Stuart era following the death of Charles II when his younger brother James became King of England. The reign of James II is a period I knew nothing about – until reading Dawnlands I never knew that England was on the brink of a renewed civil war. This is why I find historical fiction so fascinating – especially Philippa Gregory novels whose research is so rich and detailed. I always learn something new in a captivating way.
As I mention above, I haven’t read a Philippa Gregory novel for quite a few years (as I think I over indulged on her writing). So when I was invited to take part in the blog tour of Dawnlands I didn’t realise it was the third book in The Fairmile Series. I just saw the name Philippa Gregory in the email and I excitedly replied accepting the invitation before I missed out. My failure to do the slightest bit of investigating about this before I started reading the book was such a silly mistake. Although I really enjoyed Dawnlands, I do feel that my enjoyment would have been enhanced further if I had read the prequels.
For me Dawnlands is a slow burner. It took me some time to really get into. However I do feel that was my fault as the main characters have a long history explored in the previous books that I knew nothing about. Hence it took me some time to invest in these characters and believe me, these are characters that deserve investment.
Dawnlands is the continued and fascinating story of the Ferryman family, ordinary people caught up in a bitterly divided country. Before the narrative begins, we are presented with the Ferryman family tree. Personally I absolutely love a family tree in a novel and I was continuously referring back to it as I read.
The theme of slavery is powerfully explored in this novel. Yes, at times I found this uncomfortable reading, but I also felt it important reading. It was also one of the most compelling strands Dawnlands.
Like all of Philippa Gregory’s novels, the role and strength of women is also explored in this novel. For me, this is a feminist novel which I loved. Although I struggled to relate to and understand some of these women’s beliefs, I admired their strength and determination. For example, Queen Mary Modena, the second wife of James II whom history has almost forgotten.
Thank you Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of Dawnlands. To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the blog tour, please see below.
Dawnlands was released on Tuesday 8 November in hardback.