Cindy's Reviews > The Wise Woman

The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, fantasy-sci-fi
Read in November, 2009

Better than her Queen books. Not as good as the Virgin Earth and Earthy Joys. The "Wise Woman" is anything but. In fact she's a despicable young thing who lives in a convent for the love of it's good food and shelter. She escapes when it is burned and pillaged and believes her Mother Superior is dead. She ends up in at a castle,and becomes whore to the local nobleman, using her witch skills to enslave him.

She eventually betrays the old healer/witch who reared her before and after the convent. It gets rather horrible with some wax voodoo dolls that come to life. Then she betrays the Mother Superior who wasn't dead after all.

An exciting page turner which could have been shorter. It seemed like the author kept saying the same things over and over again.

Finally redemption comes on the very last page when she flings herself upon the Mother Superior's fire (who's being burned as a heretic). This change was so out of character! It comes out of left field with no explanation. There were also some plot lines that were left hanging. She never finished the scene where the wax doll demons were seen walking towards the castle!

I would love for my book club ladies to read and analyze this one.
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Mallory I agree with everything you said. The only reason I can see why Gregory left the wax dolls coming for the castle bit hanging is that Alys was too frightened of what might come of her if they did ever make it that she took her own life before that happened - it does somewhat keep in character even though she is obsessed with self preservation, she is also terrified of her own power.
It felt like the book was far too long - I also agree that Gregory did repeat herself more than was necessary. That being said the ending was quite abrupt! Alys went to the dark side so slowly that the reader never turned back, but at the end (and I mean the very end) when Alys finally came back around (even though this again was mainly for selfish/vain reasons) it felt like there were so many loose ends that as a reader it was hard to imagine Alys feeling any kind of sorrow for her actions. It is nice that she finally showed loyalty to the only person she ever truely loved, but it didn't feel authentic because the protagonist came about these changed feelings out of no where after spending literally 500 pages going in the complete opposite direction.

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