Philippa Gregory is a master at writing historical fiction novels that give readers historically accurate knowledge, intriguing adventures, and epic and forbidden romances. She is the author I bow down to for getting me hooked on the historical fiction genre. Seriously. If I heard that she was coming out with a new book, doesn’t matter if the entire book was about grass…..I’d read it. Her writing style is like no other. She truly deserves all the accolades she receives for bringing the real-life stories of women across the ages to light.
Jacquetta didn’t always know that she was special. She has the gift of second sight, and is able to sense the future. She knew that she was different, but an encounter with Joan of Arc early in her life changed her views. She knew that Joan was special too and witnessed her being taken away and murdered for witchcraft. After this, she knew that she must protect her gift and keep it safe at all costs. Fast forward a number of years, and Jacquetta is now the Duchess of Bedford, married to the Duke of Bedford, Regent of France. She becomes close friends with the Duke’s squire, Richard Woodville, whom she becomes even closer to after the Duke’s untimely death. After his death, they marry in secret, and move to England to serve at the court of King Henry VI. Jacquetta becomes a close friend and adviser to the Queen, but she can sense that all is not as it should be. She can feel a threat brewing from rival families, as well as the British subjects themselves. She must fight to protect herself, her husband, and her daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, who is recently married and faces an extraordinary future. Will she be able to foresee what will happen to her and her family in time to protect them?
First and foremost I need to express my love for Gregory’s The Cousins’ War series. The Lady of the Rivers is the third in the series, preceded by The White Queen and The Red Queen. The fourth book in the series is The Kingmaker’s Daughters and the fifth The White Princess is expected out in August. More works are planned for the series which makes this reader ECSTATIC. This is such a gripping series because it showcases both sides of the War of the Roses. Neither side is presented to the reader as the “better” side. Gregory presents the story to you as a gripping page turner. History tells us who won and who sat on the throne, but when you read Gregory’s stories it’s like you’re hearing the facts for the first time all over again.
Living in America we’re not taught all that much British history in primary school (or even European history for that matter). High school history classes focus on American History from the Civil War up to WWII. It’s when I got to college and was able to delve into British literature and British history that I became entranced by it. I couldn’t get my hands on enough books about the Kings and Queens of England! The monarchy was surprisingly tumultuous back in the day. Who was fighting whom for control, what marriages were made to create allies , etc. Gregory’s writing clearly expresses that tumultuous nature. In The Lady of the Rivers Margaret of Anjou plays a critical part in the plots for the throne. Her storyline is so clearly written that you feel the frenzy in her blood to protect the throne. The schemes she comes up with are at times off the wall, but you know that she believes them to be brilliant and necessary, which they are.
Not only is Margaret of Anjou’s anxiety felt, but Jacquetta’s as well. Her life long struggle to keep her gifts hidden is nothing short of amazing. The woman is a goddamn powerhouse of strength, intelligence, and force of will. Her passion for her family and her love for her husband, Richard, were heartwarming and poignant. Gregory truly is a master of the written word. History comes alive with her touch. I am definitely starting The Kingmaker’s Daughters ASAP. If you’ve never read any of Gregory’s books I heartily encourage you to start. If the history of the Plantagenets isn’t your style, check out her series on Henry VIII’s wives, staring with The Other Boleyn Girl.
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my third completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
Hardcover 464 pages