The Wise Woman

The Wise Woman

Book - 1992
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#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory weaves an unforgettable tale of a young woman's sorcery and desire in Henry VIII's England, where magic, lust, and power are forever intertwined.

Growing up as an abandoned outcast on the moors, young Alys' only company is her cruel foster mother, Morach, the local wise woman who is whispered to practice the dark arts. Alys joins a nunnery to escape the poverty and loneliness she has felt all her life, but all too soon her sanctuary is destroyed. King Henry VIII's followers burn the holy place to the ground, and Alys only just manages to escape with her life, haunted by the screams of her sisters as they burned to death.

She finds work in a castle not far from where she grew up as an old lord's scribe, where she falls obsessively in love with his son Hugo. But Hugo is already married to a proud woman named Catherine. Driven to desperation by her desire, she summons the most dangerous powers Morach taught her, but quickly the passionate triangle of Alys, Hugo, and Catherine begins to explode, launching them into uncharted sexual waters. The magic Alys has conjured now has a life of its own--a life that is horrifyingly and disastrously out of control.

Is she a witch? Since heresy means the stake, and witchcraft the rope, Alys is in mortal danger, treading a perilous path between her faith and her own power.
Publisher: London : HarperCollins ; Simon & Schuster, 1992.
ISBN: 9781416590880
9780006514640
0006514642
Branch Call Number: FICTION GRE

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XkatX
May 07, 2017

This is a fictional book with supernatural elements and historical events are shaping the setting and religious circumstances of the story.
It's a bewitching tale of a young orphan girl, adopted by a healer, living at the moor. The young girl aspires for a higher social position while seeking genuine love, and becomes increasingly aware of, and struggles with her desires, and dark gifts as she grows up.

f
finn75
Jul 16, 2015

An excellant historic fiction book. You become so aware of how limited life was for women back then.

Cdnbookworm May 12, 2014

This novel is set during the reign of Henry VIII, in the north of England. Alys was left as a foundling on the step of the local wise woman, but when she looked to a local farm boy with an eye to marriage, his family arranged for her to get considered at the local abbey instead. Alys was drawn to the better life she could see for herself there and joined enthusiastically, considering the Mother Superior as a maternal figure.
But Henry VIII had different plans for the abbeys, and the young lord Hugo and his men set fire to the abbey, destroying it, and leaving Alys on the run back to the old wise woman. She finds it hard to live again in the squalor of poverty, and yet goes unwillingly to the local castle to heal the old lord. When he finds her able to read and write in both English and Latin, he takes her on as a scribe, and at first Alys just wants to keep her head down until she can find her way to another abbey.
But when Hugo sets his sights at her, she finds herself torn, and when she feels herself a pawn in the maneuverings between Hugo, his wife Catherine and the old lord, she looks to the wise woman for help.
Relying on deep magic to keep control over her own life, Alys finds herself both suspect and perhaps out of her depth. As the intrigue continues, Alys finds that she has lost her soul, and isn't sure whether she is willing to do what it takes to get it back.
A story of suspicion, legends, and politics, at a time where women were only useful as mothers, workers, and sexual objects, this novel brings history to life.
At times it seemed like Alys was sinking into madness and desperation as she yearned for a life of wealth, love, and luxury.

ltenna01 Dec 01, 2013

On the one hand, if you think there is a wide disparity between rich and poor today, just read this book. Back then,
the difference was so much more distinct..

On the other hand, this book is not one of Philippa Gregory's better books. I think she should stick to real characters. Her fictional characters never seem convincing.

k
kitkatkg
Jun 24, 2012

A fairly intriguing novel about the power and the consequences of using [supposed] magic and witchcraft. Not Gregory's best writing (compared, to, let's say the Cousins' War series or the other Tudor novels), but still worth reading.

s
schubert25
May 27, 2011

I originally purchased this book because I thoroughly enjoyed "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Constant Princess." When I read this one, however, I was sorely disappointed. It was vulgar and pointless. The blend of convincing portrayals of life during that era and cheesy magic based loosely on herb-lore and voodoo felt like a desperate attempt to move away from the Boleyn series, where truth really was stranger than fiction.

indielibrarian Sep 05, 2010

Not one of Gregory's best. It starts out pretty well, but as it goes it gets sillier and the protagonist gets more annoying and unsympathetic. It starts with the burning of a nunnery during the reign of Henry VIII. Alys, the "heroine" of the novel, is a novice at the abbey who takes off running, leaving the other nuns behind to burn. She takes shelter at the hovel where she was raised as a foundling by the wise woman Morach, but soon finds herself summoned to the castle of the local lord. Once there, she falls for the young Lord Hugo, who is married to the cartoonishly villainous Catherine. Alys vows she will have Hugo and return to her life of comfort by any means necessary. Like Scarlett O'Hara but less likable, she lies, cheats, steals, and kills to get her man and make sure she's never hungry or cold again. Early in the book, the skills of wise women such as Morach and Alys are attributed to a talent for herbs and intuition. However, soon Alys is summoning the devil and making little wax voodoo dolls to control those who have power over her. It just gets more and more ridiculous. However, if you're into magic and melodrama, you'll probably like this one.

r
ryner
Oct 08, 2008

After Catholocism becomes outlawed under England's Henry VIII, a convent in northern England is looted and burned. Alys, a young nun, manages to escape undetected and flees to the decrepit home of Morach, the local wise woman who had once taken her in as an abandoned infant. Alys reluctantly resumes her training with Morach, and as their reputation for healing grows, Alys is summoned to heal the aging local lord, who decides to keep her on as his clerk upon discovering her education. Thus begins Alyns' ill-fated entanglement with the local ruling family.

Gregory's weakness in her earlier novels is clearly the unlikability of her heroines. While I felt some sympathy for Alys early on, by the book's midpoint I began to feel she deserved her misfortunes.

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kitkatkg
Jun 24, 2012

kitkatkg thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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