The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory is an amazing, disturbing, absorbing, and incredibly nuanced metaphorical book. I don’t want to spoil the read, but the ending, though a big surprise, makes perfect sense. I see a lot of parallels between the characters Alys and Catherine, with Mary and Ann in The Other Boleyn Girl. It’s no coincidence since they both take place in the same time period, which was a very difficult time to be a woman and Papist.
Alys is always looking out for number one. An orphan, she comes from nothing and through pure luck and scheming she works her way up and up through the social ladder, yet she is never happy with what life gives her. When she eventually falls in love with lord Hugo, she sets her sight on the position as lady of the castle and uses magic and scheming to get her way.
And a witch or anyone gifted with healing or sight, of course, which is the main theme of The Wise Woman. Alys was difficult to like, partially because she was so unpredictable but that is a function of Ms. Gregory’s rather shallow point of view during some very dramatic scenes. She uses omniscient point of view to portray situations through the eyes of other characters. It is executed well enough to not feel like head hopping, but that pulls the main character’s emotion and motivation out of the story.