A book I had to take a break from…but just had to finish

Maybe the holiday season is creeping into my soul. Just maybe. It still refuses to snow a decent amount, even though there was a hint we’d get a round on Wednesday, even that is retreating into nothing. Figures on a year where I genuinely have nowhere to be, as my son’s school is now completely remote until Jan 4, there are no massive disruptive snow dumps. Facebook is sending me flashback photos of my son sledding on a snow covered yard and right now I’m looking on a muddy hill.

But one of the few things COVID hasn’t taken away from me really is holiday baking and that’s helped. I made a peppermint oreo bark that really needs more chocolate base. Info for next year’s baking, for sure. Peppermint is my definitive seasonal flavor, in no small part because it suits in hot drinks so I can like caffeinate with peppermint alcohol simultaneously!

But you lovely readers are probably not here to get a glimpse into how red and green my soul is becoming. You might want to know what book I recently finished that brought me to a screeching halt before starting back up again.

Tidelands, Philippa Gregory

It’s the mid 1600s on the tidelands of England, and Alinor is a lovely, deserted wife, the object of much speculation by her neighbors.  She is on the fringes of society as a deserted pauper, but has made herself also essential to its functioning with her herbs and poultices and skill as a midwife. She becomes entangled in a love affair with a rich seminary student on an errand to free the doomed king.  Combined with her daughter’s desperation to marry her love, a boy above her station who nevertheless loves her, the women are brought back down to where society feels they belong.

Philippa’s historical fiction always centers on women who sink their tenterhooks into my empathic skin.  Always always.  When I read her historical fiction I get so bent about her characters that I creep on wikipedia so I can know how it turns out so I can brace myself for ruin.  Because we know women in power in history often were punished by ruin, and if they weren’t, they often skirted it.  I came to like a screeching halt for weeks on this one because I knew it was going to end badly after pages and pages illuminating the precariousness of her position.  How one major setback could be the end of her and then like three possible bad ends for her not only pop up but she kind of barrels toward them.  So on one hand I was annoyed with her and her daughter, but on the other hand, I couldn’t expect them as characters not to follow their hearts.  I’ve done it in the past too, it just didn’t have the same sort of consequences for me. Novels are not written about boring women, I just wish that they weren’t so relatable.  Well, maybe I like her characters just fine because I’ve read like 14 of her novels now and I suppose I should know better.  It was just hard.  I was immediately interested in this book and I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to break me apart. It was one of the new releases from my go to authors that I’m sure not to miss, even though it wasn’t following a Tudor.   Maybe because I thought I was safe with it not based on a Tudor. I don’t know, but I had to take a break from the book and get to a better emotional space before it all went to crap like I knew it would.

I am glad I read it, I am glad I finished it. I did skulk on the next of the series to get some idea of how it would play out.  And my dad read it and I asked him for some faith to press on.  And I might possibly read the next in the series and I do want to read the only two Tudor novels I have left on the TBR. Yup.  Because these are my problems, along with my soul that’s slowly coming around to Christmas. With the help of peppermint flavored, like, everything.

Next week I should actually have a Christmas read on deck, compliments of Audible’s premium plan. Not that I don’t have a ton of Christmas audiobooks, because I do. Again, problems.

Forming my plans for the New Year, too, so stay tuned.

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