Monday, April 30, 2012

The Lady of the Rivers

by Philippa Gregory

from Ms Gregory's website:
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.

I like books that entertain and teach at the same time.  There's something so satisfying about learning, in fact, development of any kind.  Gregory introduces us to real people from history and to their circumstances.  I appreciated getting to know someone I had never heard of before - Jacquetta Woodville.  The only thing I knew about Henry VI was that he was a king of England sometime before the infamous Henry VIII.  What a pathetic ruler - nothing more than a puppet.  And his young bride was quite silly and yet, mean.

The love story between Jacquetta and her 2nd husband, Richard Woodville is so tender and endearing.  From the union there were 10 or 12 offspring.  It seemed that Jacquita was always expecting.  I felt bad that she had to leave her children so often to attend to the queen, but that was the way life was in those times for someone of Jacquetta's standing.

The Lady of the Rivers was recently released in paperback.  If you enjoy well-researched, enjoyably written historical novels this is one you'll want to put on your TBR list.  I can't wait to get my hands on The White Queen and continue in this 3-book series about the Cousin's War.

 ** I received a free copy of The Lady of the Rivers from Touchstone Publicity and Simon & Schuster, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.  Thank-you Kaitlyn.  No other compensation was received.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

I am a big fan of Gregory's work, but for some reason, this one was less than satisfying to me. I also read The White Queen, and was not that enamored of it either. I think Gregory tried to do too much with this series, and for me it didn't work. I am glad to have read your review though, because it was very nice to get a different perspective and to rethink my original position. Fantastic review today!