The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
Published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Review copy received from the publisher
From the publisher:
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected 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.
Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her 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.
The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing 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.
Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.
So, I’m not super into history, nor did I really study it in college (psychology major = one history class in four years), but I usually enjoy historical fiction when I get my hands on it. Gregory is on of my favorites because (while I know she takes some liberties with her stories) the books are easy to read, entertaining, and she makes the characters and the time period come to life. Her books do get a bit repetitive but when I space a lot of time between them, they work for me.
Such was the case with The Lady of the Rivers. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I feel that I have a bit more insight into this period in history than I had before picking up the book. I’m pretty fuzzy on the specific details of The Cousins’ War, but Gregory does a good job of giving details and filling in background information without the reader feeling overwhelmed. It also helps to have read the first two books in this series (which I have).
I did like Jacquetta and rooted for her throughout the novel, but I did find her to be incredibly selfish, in looking out for her own and her family’s interests first and foremost. Although, I think in this period of history, everyone seemed to be out for themselves. I did admire her loyalty to the queen, and I liked the fact that she was honest with her when it seemed that most other people were just telling the queen what she wanted to hear, rather than what she needed to hear.
I definitely liked The Lady of the Rivers and plan to read the fourth book in this series soon.