Dawnlands: A Novel (3) (The Fairmile Series)

Estimated read time 1 min read

I’m of two minds when it comes to Philippa Gregory’s latest work. On the one hand, the newest book in the Fairmile series crafts a compelling narrative, one which people can largely step into without having read the previous two books. The story of two families constantly bound together during the turmoil of England’s struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism is fascinating, and I found myself constantly eager to follow every plotline to see where it would lead.

On the other hand, the characters tend to be either flat or caricatures. At times, this makes for intriguing conversations, as two characters representing different aspects of what it means to be English debate that very question without saying aloud that they’re doing just that. Other times, however, they behave less like human beings than like stock actors moving through their roles. This can range from the mildly irritating to the outright ridiculous.

Dawnlands will certainly have its share of fans. Philippa Gregory is well known, and rightly so, for bringing history of the 1500s and 1600s to life. I only wish she could have given her characters as much life as she gave the setting.

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