The Wise Woman

The Wise Woman

by Philippa Gregory

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416590880
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 05/27/2008
Series: Historical Novels Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 411,517
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her work has been adapted for the screen in The Other Boleyn Girl movie and the critically acclaimed STARZ miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Her most recent novel is The Last Tudor. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds two honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

Hometown:

Yorkshire, England

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa

Education:

B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

Reading Group 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?

Introduction

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 becausethe 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?

Customer Reviews

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The Wise Woman 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
MrsChi619 More than 1 year ago
I'd first like to say that I'm huge fan of Ms. Gregory. However, I was completely dissapointed with this book. The story line is very good and I think it had alot of potenital. It's very hard to like a main character when she's such a horrible person. It was difficult for me to get into the story and root for something good to happen when Alys the main heroine is so unlikeable. Don't waste your money on this book. If this is the first book of Philippa Gregory choose another, The Other Boylen Girl, The Queens Fool, or The Constant Princess are very good try those first!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I¿ve read all of Phillipa Gregory¿s Tudor era historical novels, so I was delighted to find one that I hadn¿t seen before. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a book that had gone out of print for good reason. This novel tries to be too many things, and fails at being good at any one of them. The novel starts out as the tale of Alys, a young woman who joins a nunnery a few years before Henry VIII dissolves the monasteries in England. I originally thought that it was going to be the story of the struggle between the Church of Rome and the Church of England. But the story soon turns away from religion, and flounders into romance territory when Alys becomes the clerk for old Lord Hugh and falls under the wandering eye of young Lord Hugh and finds herself smitten. Then the plot suddenly takes a detour into the occult as Alys attempts to access her ¿female power¿ and cast spells. The novel flounders around, changing direction almost every chapter. Alys bounces around like a pinball, first she longs for her life as a nun, the next she is enjoying her sinful life too much to give it up. One minute she is hot to trot for young Lord Hugh, the next her passion has gone cold. One minute you think she has turned into a witch, the next she¿s back to wanting to be a nun again. And through it all the reader is subjected to a host of entirely unpleasant characters, the worst of which is the main character, Alys. I don¿t think that Gregory intended for her to be quite so unsympathetic, but it is hard to like such a selfish character. I would recommend Gregory¿s other Tudor era novels, but this one should be avoided.
redmagic More than 1 year ago
Philippa Gregory is an awesome writer and "The Red Queen" and "The Other Boleyn Girl" for example are books I could not put down. I was disappointed in "The Wise Woman" in that as I read along my dislike for the main character increased so much the book started to bore me. The content became more "out there" as the story went along and several pieces of the story "puzzle" seemed to get lost by the time the book was done leaving the reader to wonder what happened to those things. Too many loose ends and too hard to believe for my taste, but that won't stop me from reading other books from P. Gregory.
mrs_teacher_lady More than 1 year ago
I love Philippa Gregory so I read this novel, thinking it would be good. I was so wrong, so very wrong. It's not enought that Alys is truly a bad person, the plot is extradorinarily contrived. It follows so many tangents that I felt like I needed a map to get through. First it was this, then that, then something entirely different, before meandering to an entirely other thing. There were so many loose ends by the end of the book. And the ending is not only disturbing but absolutley pointless. I honestly can't think of anyone to which this book would appeal. The only redeeming quailty of this book is that it was written early in Gregory's career, nearly a decade before The Other Boleyn Girl. My advice: only read books she wrote this century.
JazzyBear More than 1 year ago
I have to say Ms. Gregory chose to tackle a very delicate subject..most which people tend to shy away from and do not even wish to discuss but the truth of the matter is that this subject was a very real aspect in those times and many people were killed and tortured for being thought of as "witches"--innocent people at that. In this book you tend to feel different emotions for the main character-which is great. You love her, then hate her, are appalled at her behavior, you pity her, then you are touched by her. I did not expect the ending that Ms. Gregory had for this book. I was so touched and saddened the book brought me to tears. Bravo Ms. Gregory another great peice!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Philippa Gregory, but this is my least favorite book of hers. It starts out really slow, I almost returned it after the first or second chapter, but it did pick up enough to want to finish the rest of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was depressing and the characters were not very endearing. Not the usual fair from Ms. Gregory. I love reading her wonderfully detailed books but this one left me cold!
dreamlikecheese on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Wow. This book was severely disappointing. I've read many of Gregory's more recent works (most of her Tudor series for instance) and found them very enjoyable, if a little fluffy.This work however, has very few redeeming features. As many other reviews have noted, the main character in intensely unlikeable. I don't actually find this to be a problem; I'm quite happy for her to be as awful as she is. The problem is, Gregory never fills her out. Alys acts appallingly but there is never sufficent explanation or motivation and her behaviour throughout the book, particularly at the end, feels forced.The dialogue in this book is terrible. Aside from the incredibly unhistorical phrasing (which I am willing to forgive if it aids comprehension for modern readers - though is it really necessary for the male lead to describe Alys as "hot"?) the interaction between the characters feels forced and unnatural. Characters frequently make non sequitur statements as if there was something Gregory needs them to say, but she couldn't work out how to turn the dialogue in that direction.I must say that this book does not encourage me to go back and read more of Gregory's back catalogue. I don't mind my historical fiction being fluffy and generically written, but there's no excuse for such poor writing and a complete lack of understanding for your own characters!
lecari on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I love her "Other Boleyn Girl" and liked the other books in that series, so I thought I'd branch out to her other historical fiction. I found this really disappointing. I have read other books with dislikable characters (eg "Talented Mr Ripley") and books with lots of sex (eg "The Reader") in the past and liked them, but this I just could not like. There are lots of very graphic sex scenes, all quite violent, reading them made me quite uncomfortable especially in so much detail. I didn't feel it was relevant to the plot either, for the most part - it could have been cut out or edited to just the women gossiping the next day, rather than leaving it as full erotica! The main character is pretty awful as well - very selfish. I was really disappointed with this book and it's not one I'd recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was tedious to read, the ending was lame and an opportunity to creatively tie up one of the significant loose ends was missed. This will be my last Philippa Gregory novel...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By Philippa Gregory. Not her best, but by no means her worst. Definitly for the younger set, but has some steamy sex in it for some of us older women. Haha! It is at is best historically speaking, and has it all. You will hate most of the charactrs. As is the norm and the main reason I love Gregory! Charm us with these wicked ones , Ms. Gregory and I shall set down with a pint or two. I loved the candle wax blobs , Hilarious! Kept me in fits ! I had just about read it all at that point. Lol, you write em, I buy em! Charm me more, please.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JanejaneBE More than 1 year ago
Too graphically sexual in parts to be enjoyed as work of Philippa Gregory, and the ending was guessed waaaay ahead of time. I prefer her usual, history mixed with fantasy style, with just enough sex to make it hum, but not so much that it offends the imagination. Seems it was trying to compete with 50 Shades of Gray............ Too bad. I won't give up on Gregory, though. Maybe next time will be awesome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a typical Phillppa Gregory book. It can tedious in parts and very repetitive with the obvious mental problems that the "heroine" had. Not one of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was not what I expected. Such a good story when you think about it. This is not so black and white like most of her books. I got that the main character had some issues that manifested themselves in a shocking way to the reader. Read it with an open mind. You will love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The was trash . I cant believe i wasted any time on it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
skygoddess2000 More than 1 year ago
This was the first novel I read of hers. I've been an avid fan since.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago