Newest Review: ... take the throne for himself. Jaquetta must face the dangers of living in a country at war, and fight for the safety of her family, especi... more
The Lady of the Rivers
The Lady of the Rivers - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: AlmshoeRachy
The Lady of the Rivers - Philippa Gregory
Date: 16/07/12, updated on 24/04/13 (67 review reads)
Advantages: Well researched & well written
Disadvantages: None for me
The Lady of the Rivers is the third book in Philippa Gregory's Cousin's War series, set throughout the War of the Roses. The first two are the White Queen about Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower; and The Red Queen about Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. The fourth book, The Kingmakers Daughter about Anne Neville is available now too.
The Lady of the Rivers is all about Jacquetta, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville. Jacquetta was a strong women living in dangerous times who managed to survive the Wars of the Roses against all odds, yet little seems to have been previously written about her.
The story starts with Jacquetta as a young girl in 1430, learning about her family. It is said that she was descended from Melusina, a mythical creature said to be a river goddess or a mermaid. Jacquetta inherits the gift of second sight from her ancestor. She is married to the Duke of Bedford who has learnt about her family, and wants to use her to see in to the future to tell him when he should go in to battle and when he is likely to win.
After she is widowed, she marries her former husband's squire, Richard Woodville. Richard and Jacquetta enjoy a long and happy marriage, with many children born to them .
Living through such troubled times was never going to be easy though. As Dowager Duchess Jacquetta is one of the first ladies in the land. She becomes a close friend and confidante of Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI, the Lancaster King. She supports Margaret throughout his periods of insanity, or when he is said to be 'sleeping' for long periods of time. Margaret is shown to be an impulsive queen so sure of her right to reign in her husband's absence, Jacquetta has her work cut out trying to keep the queen in some kind of order without this becoming apparent. With her husband absent for many years doing his duty to the king, Jacquetta is constantly at the Queen's side and they even ride out, just the two of them, to watch and a Lancaster York battle from the belfry of a church. When the battle turns and the Lancaster army seems sure to lose, Margaret begs Jacquetta to let her ride off alone, and leaves Jacquetta alone and in great danger to face the York army and try to confuse them in to chasing the queen in the wrong direction. This is just one example of the Queen's selfish and compulsive behaviour.
Jacquetta also has to be wary of her skills as she watches her sister-in-law, Eleanor Cobham, the Duchess of Gloucester, brought to trial for witchcraft and imprisoned from 1442 until her death in 1452.
The book ends in the Spring of 1464, midway through the Wars of the Roses when Jacquetta's daughter, Elizabeth, first meets King Edward.
The Wars of the Roses was an incredibly unsettled time, with the royal cousins tearing their families apart. Very few families come through the period unscathed, with thousands of men being killed in the various battles. The books I have previously read on the period have mainly been from inside the York camp, so it was interesting to read a book so focussed on the House of Lancaster. Although the book is mainly about Jacquetta, it also focuses a lot on Margaret of Anjou, a woman I definitely didn't warm to. I can understand some of the reasons for her actions, but she is ruthless and vengeful.
I found the book an absorbing read. Gregory always makes the times come alive with her descriptions of everything from the beautiful dresses worn to the desperate battle scenes. Gregory clearly does so much research into all her books that it really shows and I find them an absolute pleasure to read.
Five stars from me - I would highly recommend the previous two books and can't wait for the fourth one!
The Lady of the Rivers is available from Amazon for £3.86 including delivery. The paperback, published by Simon & Schuster (Mar 2012) has 544 pages.
Thanks for reading.
Summary: Another absorbing read from Phillipa Gregory