The Wise Woman: A Novel by Philippa GregoryThe Wise Woman: A Novel by Philippa Gregory

The Wise Woman: A Novel

byPhilippa Gregory

Paperback | May 27, 2008

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#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. Alys joins a nunnery to escape the poverty and loneliness she has felt all her life, but all too soon her sanctuary is destroyed. King Henry VIII’s followers burn the holy place to the ground, and Alys only just manages to escape with her life, haunted by the screams of her sisters as they burned to death.

She finds work in a castle not far from where she grew up as an old lord’s scribe, where she falls obsessively in love with his son Hugo. But Hugo is already married to a proud woman named Catherine. Driven to desperation by her desire, she summons the most dangerous powers Morach taught her, but quickly the passionate triangle of Alys, Hugo, and Catherine begins to explode, launching them into uncharted sexual waters. The magic Alys has conjured now has a life of its own—a life that is horrifyingly and disastrously out of control.

Is she a witch? Since heresy means the stake, and witchcraft the rope, Alys is in mortal danger, treading a perilous path between her faith and her own power.
Author Philippa Gregory was born in Nairobi, Kenya on January 9, 1954. At the age of two, she moved to England with her family. She received a B.A. in history at Sussex University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 18th-century literature from the University of Edinburgh in 1984. She has taught at numerous universities and was made a fellow of Kin...
Title:The Wise Woman: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.2 inPublished:May 27, 2008Publisher:TouchstoneLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416590889

ISBN - 13:9781416590880

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book I could never figure out what she would do next Devious lill vixen as much as a wise women
Date published: 2013-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hated Alys, but the story drew me in Alys was 12 when she found an abbey to live in and took her vows to become a nun. At 16, the abbey was burned to the ground during King Henry VIII's reign. She was the only one to escape and went back to live with her adopted "mother" Morach, a healer in a village nearby, because she had nowhere else to go for shelter. Alys is taken to the castle of Lord Hugh and becomes his scribe, but while trying to stay true to her vows in hopes of one day finding a new abbey, she is desperately drawn to Lord Hugh's son Hugo, although he is married. Alys also has some tricks up her sleeve that she learned from Morach. I hated Alys! Often, when I hate a main character, I have trouble liking the book, but the story drew me in, and I thought it was really good. I thought about lowering my rating slightly because I hated Alys so much, but the draw of the story won out for me.
Date published: 2011-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from get ready for the gore I'm a huge Philippa fan, as she has an incredible gift. I've read everything she has written that I can get my hands on and a friend asked me the other day which novel left the biggest impact good or bad. The Wise Woman is without a doubt, one of the strangest and bewitching novels I have ever read from this genre and was quite disturbing. The descriptors of gore and burnings and witch craft and nuns being tortured are quite shocking and yet there is still quite a story in all of that. Don't know that I'd recommend it to the faint of heart, but it was well written and worth the time as long as you have the stomache...Alice Hartley's Happiness is another that has the Philippa flare but is pretty different and not expectedly Philippa.
Date published: 2011-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read this book!!! A must read!!! Phillippa has never disappointed me she is a unique writer with an imagination like no other. I will say no more...just read this book.
Date published: 2010-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Not sure why this book got any negative reviews at all. It was a wonderful romp! The "sex" scenes were not as graphic as some reviewers would have you believe. I thought it was slightly twisted and full of pathos. Great read.
Date published: 2010-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Wise Woman The Wise Woman Philippa Gregory This is an interesting look into the life of women during the time of Tudor England and the reign of Henry the VIII. It is a great tale of survival, on the difficulties facing women of the time. It follows the life of young Alys, a young nun who barely escapes with her life when Henry's reformists storm and burn down the Catholic convent she is living in. She ends up on the doorstep of Morach a wise woman/witch that had originally taken her in when she was orphaned as a child. As a child Alys' life was a hard existence in the hovel in the woods she shares with Morach. Alys' sharp memory and ability to learn herb craft and lore, gets her into the convent on a visit and she sees a far better life than her current one. Alys decides to dedicate her life to the convent, until the fire. When Morach sends Alys to answer a call a local lords hall to attend an ailing member of the hall. Alys again seizes the chance to improve her lot in life. The young beautiful Alys is not one for the hard scrabble life and squalor associated with Morach's way of life. Alys, uses her beauty and female wiles to attract Hugo's attention. As lord Hugo awaits what will happen with Henry's struggles with the church and changing the laws to annul his marriage, Alys uses her power and knowledge of herbs to gain her way to a better life. This opens up Alys to the worry of Alys being labelled a witch. Eventually Alys finds out she is not the sole survivor of the abbey fire, the Abbess has also survived. Alys's guilt finally gets the best of her and the world she has worked so hard to get, come crashing down all around her. This was the first book I have read by Gregory, and I quite enjoyed it even though her main source of information of this time period is widely criticized as not being the most accurate. I think it still give a pretty accurate portrayal of what life was like for women living on the margins of society, with the exception of Alys managing to make her way to the almost marriage to the lord from her lowly station. It does give an incredible tale of survival. It was entertaining and would recommend it to any one interested in Tudor history or english history.
Date published: 2010-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A surprising gem! This was a surprisng gem! I didn't think I'd like the story premise but bought it because of the author. I was so pleased with this read. I went from pitying to liking and then hating the main character. The ending was dramatic!
Date published: 2009-12-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Medieval Porno I really respect Philippa Gregory for much of her other work. She is an avid historian and she knows her stuff. Her specialty is the Tudor period, and in particular, seems to have a marvelous focus on women and their roles in the struggles and plots for power. That's why I was so excited to read this book, and severely disappointed. I was hoping for a lot more history, plot, and character development. Instead, The Wise Woman came across as a really trashy romance novel. I'm even loath to call it that because it seemed like Gregory was just selling sex in every position instead of highlighting the story of what could have been a very compelling character. I'm no prude, and a little sex in a story doesn't hurt, but not at the expense of what I had hoped would be an intelligent page turner, not the literary equivalent of a medieval porn video.
Date published: 2009-10-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not what I was expecting The begining of this novel was an absolute page turner but then it just got strange. There was some weird almost science fiction action in it which threw me off . And then you have the almost disgusting (and extremely descriptive) sex scenes.
Date published: 2009-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from liked it I personally like the book. It was different from what she usually writes. I was a little upset at the characters, but I think that made it more interesting. It was a very strange and interesting book.
Date published: 2008-12-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from disappointing I have read other books by this aurthor but this one was aweful. The worst I have read. The story was pitiful from start to finish . I was surprised at the way this one was written, some parts were downright disgusting. I got the impression all the way through that it was set in medieval times , which it wasn't. I managed to finish it and I wont reread it or recomend it to anyone. I did not like any of the Characters .
Date published: 2008-11-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not the book for me I started out liking the book, and I really love the writing style, but slowly I start to hate it. None of the characters have any moral values, I was hoping that the main characters may some how redeem herself in some way, but at this point I don't know what she could do. I have never read a book were I could care less about the characters. I am 200 pages from finishing am feel I should finish it, but really don't want to. This was the first book I read by Philippa Gregory, and I was hoping for more, maybe it was just this book. I am not going to give on this author and give one of her other books a try, but I am not going to recommend this book.
Date published: 2008-08-21

Bookclub Guide

The Wise Woman 1. Philippa Gregory has created some wicked characters in this book. Who did you see as the ultimate villain? At what times did Alys have your sympathies? Did she ever go so far in her selfishness that she lost your compassion? What about Catherine? Did you ever begin to feel bad for her despite her ill treatment of some of the other women? Did the old lord Hugh or Hugo ever gain your sympathy? 2. Alys tries to find ways to regain safety and stability after the abbey is burned. She tells Morach, "I have no safety without some power." In what ways does she try to gain power once she gets to the castle? Do you think Alys handled her power wisely? 3. Morach tells Alys, "You're a woman of no loyalty, Alys. It's whatever will serve a purpose for you." To what degree do you find this true? Do any of the characters in The Wise Woman show loyalty? At what times does Alys's disloyalty save her? What does she lose by continually acting selfishly? 4. The book takes place during the English Reformation. How do Alys's affiliations with black magic and Catholicism mimic each other? Why do you think both witches and heretics were put to death? What dangers did they present to the Church of England? 5. The book also takes place during the reign of King Henry VIII. "[Hugo] and his father had craved sons, but this reign had taught men the value of pretty women as pawns in the power game." Discuss some of the gender role differences in Lord Hugh's castle. How did women gain power? How did the historical events that took place during King Henry VIII's reign affect the fictional story of Alys and Catherine? 6. Alys initially becomes a nun because the abbey provides a relatively luxurious and comfortable life. She measures her success in Lord Hugh's castle by how many gowns she has compared to Catherine. Why do you think Alys is so concerned with material possessions? How did her preoccupation with wealth and material gain inform her decisions throughout the story? 7. Discuss Alys's relationship with Tom. Do you think she truly loved him? Did you expect that he would return again and become the one person Alys could love unconditionally? 8. Alys considers Hildebrande a "woman mad for martyrdom, rushing toward exposure and danger." Did you see Hildebrande's loyalty to her religion as foolish? Or was Alys's extreme disloyalty more surprising? Are some beliefs worth dying for? 9. Given what you read in the novel, do you think that Alys had magical powers? Can the wax be explained scientifically? What about the carved bones? What do you think became of the wax figures once Alys died? 10. Do you think that Alys finally made the right decision at the end of the book? If she was in fact pregnant, do you think it was sinful of her to cast her unborn child onto the fire with her? What is the significance of beginning and ending the novel from Alys's point of view, and with the same words?