The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
- Method of Obtaining: I received my copy from the publisher.
- Published by: Simon and Schuster
- Release Date: 9/15/2011
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and recognizes her own power in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the “wheel of fortune” before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.
Married to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.
Drawing on years of research, Philippa Gregory tells the story of the Woodvilles who achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty of the House of York.
Jacquetta fights for her King, her Queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a young woman married to a neighbor for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.
- I began to read Gregory’s books on The Cousin’s War a few years ago, and had this one on my shelf for a while.
I’ve been a fan of Philippa Gregory since, years ago, I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl. I can’t help it – I love easy to read historical fiction, and Philippa Gregory provides enough meat in these books to make me feel like I’m learning and being entertained, all in one fell swoop.
I’ve had The Lady of the Rivers on my shelf for a year now – and I’m ashamed of myself that I’m just now getting to it. For some reason, I was thinking it would be a huge time investment, as historical novels tend to be, but then once I picked it up and started reading, I remembered how impossible stories like this were to put down.
So once again, I ended up reading into the night, turning page after page, devouring the life of Jacquetta like she was my BFF. This book follows her from her loveless marriage, through the death of that husband, and finally her love match with her final husband. It touches on Joan of Arc, on the trials of Henry IV and Margaret of Anjou, the war between the cousins, in all its bloody glory. But it never really gets deep into the descriptions of blood and gore, as Gregory decides, instead, to focus mainly on Jacquetta.
Jacquetta had a busy life, that’s for certain – I lost count toward the end but around 10-11 children? Plus traveling, plus placating a very, very headstrong woman in Queen Margaret. I was reminded, again, that no matter how we romanticize those times, things would not have been easy. And most of all, I was thoroughly entertained (although toward the end things seemed to really rush a bit, but I suspect that was due to Gregory’s excitement to move on to the next book, as she indicates in her afterward).
Recommended for fans of historical fiction – I liked this one a bit more than The Red Queen, and found it a fun romp through history.
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