Book Review: The Lady Of The Rivers

17 Nov

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 sees her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft, before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France.

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.

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. King Henry VI slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret , his 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 for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York. A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother to the White Queen.

To purchase this book, click on the following title — The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins’ War)

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl which was made into a tv drama, and a major film. Now, six novels later, she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.

She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to this site, Philippa become addicted to the updates of historical research and the progress of ducklings.

Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of this very dry and poor African country, and thousands of school children have been able to learn market gardening in the school gardens watered by the wells. The charity also provides wells for womens’ collective gardens and for The Gambia’s only agricultural college at Njawara.

A past student of Sussex university, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh university, her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for the Washington Post, the LA Times, and for UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from this website, Philippa

My Impressions:

The Lady of The Rivers tells the story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg and the times she lived in.  Jacquetta’s family was allied with the English in the 100 Years War and came to be married to one of the most powerful men in the Lancastrian dynasty.  Following the death of her husband, the Duke of Bedford, Jacquetta served as a lady-in-waiting to Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI.  Her love match with her husband’s squire, Richard Woodville, cost her quite a bit of money, but it seems she was not absent from court very much, except for her confinement with her 14 pregnancies.  Not much more is known about Jacquetta, but her eldest daughter, the widow Elizabeth Woodville, catches the eye of Edward IV and becomes his wife.

So much for the historical record.  Gregory adds quite a bit to bring to life the times of the War of The Roses or as it was known then, The Cousins War.  This is the time of the warring Plantagenets; a time of York vs. Lancaster.  If you have read Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman, you need to read The Lady of The Rivers to get the other side.  The pages of this novel are filled with the last days of Joan of Arc, the fight for the regency of England and Henry VI’s slow decline into mental illness.  Gregory adds a bit of alchemy, witchcraft, and the legend of the founding of the house of Luxembourg to lift up what could have been some very dry reading.  Dry, it is not.  And any fan of historical novels, especially the Tudor era, will love this book.  It fills in quite a bit of what was going on prior to the rise of the Tudors.


Other participants on the tour:

11/14/2011 — A Bookish Affair
11/15/2011 — Proud Book Nerd
11/16/2011 — Review from Here
11/19/2011 — The Bookish Mama
11/20/2011 — Ravishing Reads
11/21/2011 — A Chick Who Reads
11/22/2011 — Kritter’s Ramblings
11/23/2011 — The Book of Secrets
11/25/2011 — Sinnful Books
11/26/2011 — Sherri’s Jubilee
11/27/2011 — Hippies, Beauty, and Books Oh My!
11/28/2011 — Book Snob

(I received The Lady of The Rivers from Crazy Book Tours in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: The Lady Of The Rivers”


  1. Spotlight on the Wordpress Book Bloggers! « Randomize ME - November 22, 2011

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