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The Wise Woman

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  7,802 ratings  ·  655 reviews
#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. A
Paperback, 520 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Atria Books (first published 1992)
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Nancy It can also be read as a series by reading Philippa's books in chronological order.

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3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,802 ratings  ·  655 reviews

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AnneMarie Watson
Jul 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Veronica Bailey
May 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Kim
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
Lissy Liz
What the fuck did I read?
Feb 02, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Ashley Brookfield
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
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kate Millin
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
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bella James
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, erotic and beautifully crafted.
Therese Arkenberg
This seems like the perfect book to review for Halloween—not quite a romance, but a historical fantasy with moments of searing eroticism and truly effective horror.

I’m the hipster reader who liked what Philippa Gregory wrote before she was cool. Not that I don’t love her Tudors work, too, but A Respectable Trade (about the slave trade in 18th century Bristol) and the Wideacre trilogy (also 18th century, about a woman’s scheming to gain control of the family estate) have special places in my hea
Mar 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was ill-prepared for this book. I mean, I had just finished the Tudors series Gregory wrote (which was fabulous, by the way) and I wanted to read something less dependant on other books before I started the next series I have (the "Wideacre" triology). Reading the back of the novel persuaded me to pick up this book as my next read; it is set in the relative time period of the Tudor books, but the main character was very different from the ladies of court I had previously been reading about.

Sep 30, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This is the worst book that I have ever read. So bad in fact that I didn't finish it, and I have never stopped reading a book in the middle before. I was completely uncomfortable reading about the witchcraft, and the gratuitous sex in the book is the straw that broke the camel's back.

I like to cheer for my main characters when I read a book, but in this I couldn't. I kept reading hoping that Alys would turn a one-eighty and abandon the dark arts that she started dabbling in. Instead I was disap
Tammy Farrell
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 t ...more
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I know it gets a lot of hate and I understand why people do hate it but I love it anyway. This was very different than Gregory's other books, it was dark with unlikeable characters, but I ate it up like a guilty pleasure.
Alexis (hookedtobooks)
So I went into this book really excited as I love Philippa Gregory and I love her books on the War of the Roses and the Tudor era. And while this book does take place during the Tudor era, it’s not part of the series. I still bought it hoping it would catch me like the series did. And I’m sad to say it didn’t.
I’m not sure if it’s because I had high hopes and it let me down, or I just didn’t fall in love with the character, but I just could not connect with this book.
The novel follows Alys, a you
Marion Marchetto
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
When I was a young girl my mother always told me to 'be careful what you wish for'. Too bad Alys, the young girl around whom this story centers, didn't heed that admonishment when her mentor/mother Morach made it. At an early age Alys came to live with Morach, an old wise woman who lives alone in a remote cottage out on the moors. Morach trains the young Alys in the healing arts of an herbalist. When Alys falls in love though it is the young man's parents who literally offer Alys to the local nu ...more
Kit Perriman
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acc ...more