Philippa Gregory

Friday 22 May 2020

I’ve just started reading Philippa Gregory’s The Lady of the Rivers, which is an excellent piece of historical fiction and beautifully paced.  I’m late to reading Philippa Gregory and my only excuse is, there are a lot of good writers out there and a finite number of reading hours in the day.

I was inspired to read these books because Philippa Gregory’s writing was once the cause of an unexpected argument in one of my creative writing classes. Often, during the first week or so of a new class, I ask students about their favourite novels or authors. It gives them a chance to share something they love and it gives me a chance to understand their tastes in writing.  It also allows me a chance to learn about the fantastic storytellers that are out there, such as Philippa Gregory.

On this particular morning, I was welcoming a new class of elderly writing students, the youngest of whom was in their seventies. I’d been round the room asking each person to say a little about their favourite author and one shy and retiring lady explained that she liked Philippa Gregory’s stories because they were such detailed historical romances.

“Oh! Yes,” called a brusque woman from the other side of the room. This lady was in her eighties, had a face the colour of boiled ham and a voice that sounded like something you’d hear on a hunt.  “I’ve read her books. She writes about witchcraft and sorcery and that sort of nonsense. Lots of fun.”

“Not quite,” demurred the first lady. “It’s historical fiction rather than witchcraft and sorcery.”

“Are you calling me an effing liar?” demanded the woman with the boiled ham face.

“I’m saying, if you have read the books, you clearly didn’t understand them,” said the first woman.

I stopped the confrontation before it became physical (because it looked like one of them was going to get up and lamp the other one and, despite her quiet voice, my money was on the shy and demure woman). And, now I’ve started reading Philippa Gregory’s work, I’m looking forward to finding out which of those women was correct.

PS – PayBack Week was re-released yesterday.  If you enjoy horror fiction that genuinely scares, treat yourself to a copy:


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