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The Wise Woman

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  8,722 ratings  ·  745 reviews
Alys joins a nunnery to escape the poverty of her life on the moor with her foster mother, Morach, the local wise woman with whom she lives as an outcast, but she soon finds herself thrown back into the world when Henry VIII's wreckers destroy her sanctuary. Summoned to the castle as the old lord's scribe, she falls obsessively in love with his son Hugo, who is married to ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published April 2nd 2002 by HarperCollins GB (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,722 ratings  ·  745 reviews

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Jul 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
I'm a huge Philippa Gregory fan, so I don't know how the same author wrote this as wrote The Other Boleyn Girl and all those other excellent historical romances. This book really sucked! If I hadn't been out of town and away from a library, and if I'd brought anything else with me to read, I wouldn't have even finished it! And I'm a real stickler for finishing books, even bad ones, so that says it all right there. This book was really awful. ...more
Veronica Bailey
May 01, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Is it possible to give less than one star? I think this may well be the worst book I've ever read all the way to the end. The "heroine" of the story was so selfish and unconcerned with anything but her own material pleasure that I swear I only finished the book in hopes that I'd get to see her die a brutal death at the end. ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book is remarkable only in its utter awfulness.

I've read probably half a dozen of Gregory's books and have always enjoyed them. Usually fun, fluffy, and easy-to-read, her books serve as a nice palate cleanser after a particularly intense read. This one, however, left a decidedly bad taste in my mouth. I honestly believe that Gregory must have been going through some sort of crisis as a writer when she wrote this one. She mocks herself as a writer, her genre, and her readers.

Not a single ch
Lissy Liz
What the fuck did I read?
Jennifer Kim
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I can't decide whether I really like the book or it was a waste of my time....

***Spoiler alert***
Personally, I don't find Alys, the supposed protagonist, sympathetic or likable. She is motivated by self-preservation, greed, and pure selfishness. I wanted to know what made her this way, but all I got was that she was probably starved for affection when she was a toddler but when she joined the nunnery, she was loved by the head mistress. There was a lot of affection and expectation. So, it still
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very nicely written, intriguing book. I love absolutely every book written by Phillipa Gregory. She writes from the woman perspective and she seems to be a medium and a very good psychologist to be able to transfer so many feelings in her writings. Is like she was there and is telling the true story. Amazing!
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is definitely different from other books by Gregory, it is so much darker than her norm but I liked that a lot! There were some scenes where I was totally shocked that I was even reading a book by her (the birthing scene, the orgy, etc). I absolutely hated Alys's character because she was such a shitty person, and I was really surprised at how cruel she could be and how she could betray everyone she ever loved so quickly. Again, I'm not used to such characters in Gregory's Tudor series. Spe ...more
So I am currently making my way through all Gregory’s novels. I am a huge fan of the Tudor court novels which meant Gregory was propelled to the top 5 of my favourite authors in my teens.

All I can say is that these ‘early’ novels are quite out there! I’m not sure what I just read, and actually I am a little grossed out. However, that being said, I was still gripped and the ending did have some impact on me. It was a jaw hanging open moment for sure. I loved that about this novel, the shock and
Sarah Mac
Bad. Just...bad. Poorly written with awkward, repetitive, bland prose + flat, unsympathetic characters. Blech. I know it was published early in PG’s career, but compared to other Gregory efforts from that era it felt like a ghostwriter stepped in to flesh out a cocktail napkin’s worth of plot outline.

No doubt these characters are *supposed* to be repulsive, but it’s a fine line between anti-heroic personages you still care about & zero-positive douchebags you would happily fling off a cliff. To
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ok at one time, this book was hard to find. The only way I was able to get it was through Amazon. But now that Philipa Gregory has become a household name among Henry the Vlll fanatics as myself, it is available again. The book is a grisly tale about dark powers and desires. It is a tale of passion and witchcraft in 16th century England.
Alys is raised by Morach who is a feared wise-woman of the moors. Alys does not like living with her so joins a Catholic nunnery. One day a young lord, Hugo and
Jan 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Another enjoyable book by Philippa Gregory although i would have liked a bit more in the storyline.
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
Mar 12, 2015 rated it liked it
All the while I was reading this book, I wondered what sort of reaction other people on Goodreads would have. I knew some of them would hate it. From the first chapter it was clear to me that this book was written before Gregory started cranking out the queen books that put her on the literary map. While I have read, and enjoyed, all of those books, she was constrained, for the most part, by history and the truth. She played with the facts and fictionalized them somewhat, but in "The Wise Woman" ...more
Feb 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
I have read almost all of Philippa Gregory’s other novels and I am now going back to some of her “older” books. Finding The Wise Woman, I was excited to read it but after the first few pages I was utterly disappointed. It was a struggle just to complete the book and I always finish books no matter how good or bad. If I had not read her other books to know I enjoy her as an author I would have walked away from this book and never picked up on of her books again. The main character was utterly uns ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm not quite sure how to rate this book; I think it's actually a 1.5. I did finish it, and it kept me interested, but sorta like a train wreck is interesting. Most of the time, I was horrified and disgusted. So, I guess I finished it out of a deep desire to see if Alys gets what she deserves, in the end. Unfortunately, I picked up this book because I love most of what Phillipa Gregory writes. Yes, I did read the Wideacre trilogy, and was disgusted w/ book 1. Books 2 & 3 are much better, in my o ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was right up my alley so even though the reviews weren't glowing, I had to read it. I liked the setting and the premise, and especially liked how there was a little, but not a lot, of magic. It was a normal world just had some magic in it.
I was surprised at how little time passed in the book. I thought like at least 2 years had passed until it was mentioned that it had only been 10 months. I was surprised how rather suddenly she became a bad horrible person. She pretty much never felt
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
I was disappointed in this book after The Other Boleyn Girl. The main character was utterly unsympathetic, as were most of the other characters. As a result, it was hard to get invested in any of their outcomes. In addition, it lacked the complicated politics of Gregory's other work, but carried on some of the same themes in a thin echo of what I know that she can do. ...more
Jellyroll Gumdrop
Dark and twisted with a shot of horror in the mix. I loved it.
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate Millin
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is the first book by Philippa Gregory that I have not enjoyed reading - I finished it because I wanted to know what happened, but I found Alys to be the the least likeable main character of any book I have read for a long time. Also although I like fantasy and science fiction I prefer it in books within those genre's not in a book I am reading for historical context. I have read other books about witches in this period and they were much better as they did not resort to fantastical elements ...more
I'm pissed!! I read this more than ten years ago as a library book, and just bought a new copy, and it turns out she rewrote it! I want the old version, where the perverted little heroine falls in love with the guy who put a leash and collar on her mom after sacking their castle, not where the heroine is a nun!

I want to read the original novel, dammit.

I had noticed that Philippa Gregory seemed ashamed of this book, never listing it along with her historical novels. Now it's back, but she's chang
Dumb, dumb, dumb. Through much struggle and perserverance I finished this book but wow what a ridiculous story line. I kept waiting for it to all fit together and become a remarkable book (much like Gregory's other novels). It was just so far fetched that it made it completely silly - not to mention the story written to a little over 500 pages could have been told that in have the pages.

What a waste of trees!

I will read Gregory again but this was a shocker of a disappointment - I wonder how she
Bella James
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dark, erotic and beautifully crafted.
Kit Perriman
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction begins in 1540 and follows the tragic life of seventeen-year-old Alys, a young peasant girl in Tudor England. Alys grew up on the moor with a harsh foster-mother called Morach, the local wise woman. But turning her back on superstition and the pagan arts, Alys decides to join a nunnery. For a time she finds contentment in this orderly sanctuary. She enjoys the rigid structure, comparative luxury, and safety afforded to the Holy Sisters.

But Alys happiness is short lived. O
Sep 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tammy Farrell
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I recommended this book to a friend and said it was one of my top 5 favourites, and then I realized I've never written a review for it.

I hate how cliche it is to say it, but I literally could NOT put this book down. I walked around the house with it, stayed up until 3am reading it and was so sad when it ended.

There are all kinds of villains in this book. In fact, the whole cast is villainous, with very few redeeming qualities about them. Some have said that's why they didn't like it, but I'm p
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book is well-written, but I spent the whole of it wondering when Alys was going to become at least a little bit sympathetic and likeable, or even a protagonist one could at least love to hate. No, she remained throughout horribly selfish and lacking in self-awareness or empathy. Alys was the complete opposite of a wise woman, and the depiction of witchcraft and the realities of what a historically accurate wise woman would be and was were completely unrealistic and false. Considering how go ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I rated this book quite low, but in hindsight it probably was better than this. Highly disturbing and unlike any of the other Philippa Gregory books I have read (practically all of them), the story of terror and survival at all cost does underpin the book. I probably could have done without all the gaudy and at times Game of Throne-like themes, but the story is a clear portrayal of the moral decay during the rule of Henry VIII and the nobles justifying their behaviour based on that of the king's ...more
Suzan Lemont
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
It started off OK and it did keep me reading, but at some point just to find out what happens, like a kind of spell which made me feel cheap and disgusted (just like the characters in the book). Alys has to be one of the finest examples of a psychopathic liar I've ever seen but after a point it just got so... completely weird and insane. I might have bad dreams after finishing this book. I'm hoping I can just forget about it as soon as possible. I'm curious to read other Gregory books as they se ...more
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Philippa Gregory is one of the world’s foremost historical novelists. She wrote her first ever novel, Wideacre, when she was completing her PhD in eighteenth-century literature and it sold worldwide, heralding a new era for historical fiction.

Her flair for blending history and imagination developed into a signature style and Philippa went on to write many bestselling novels, including The Other Bo

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