TWENTY-ONE years have elapsed since Alinor Reekie and her teenage daughter Alys left Foulmire in a hurry – both pregnant and both deeply in disgrace.
Alinor has never fully recovered from her very public near-drowning as a suspected witch at the hands of Foulmire’s elders. Plagued by poor health, in 1670 she is a frail impersonation of the woman she was during her time as a healer and midwife on the south coast of England.
Now the pair support themselves as wharfingers: mistresses of a ramshackle little warehouse on the River Thames on the eastern fringe of London. Their clients are the second-tier traders whose goods aren’t required to go directly to the government wharves closer to the city centre for official customs inspection.
Alinor’s son Rob has been working as a doctor in Venice and her brother Ned – the one-time ferrymaster at Foulmire – is making a fresh life for himself as a New World settler, having been forced to flee their hamlet after the king he had opposed was restored to the throne and embarked on a purge of all known adversaries.
Suddenly an inordinately attractive young Venetian woman arrives by ship in Southwark claiming to be Rob’s widow Livia, the Nobildonna da Ricci. Her husband, she says, has drowned in a lagoon in Venice, leaving her all alone with their newborn baby to raise. Her only remaining family are Alinor, Alys and Alys’s adult twins.
When the vivacious Livia crosses paths with a man from Alinor’s past, the aristocratic landholder Sir James Avery, her prospects start to look brighter – but her desires are the polar opposite of her inlaws’ wishes.
Dark Tides is the sequel to Tidelands, the novel that introduced the Reekies and James Avery (then a Catholic priest travelling under the assumed name ‘Summers’) during King Charles’ exile on the Isle of Wight.