The Lady Of The Rivers
- Simon & Schuster Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 29 March 2012
- Historical Fiction
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Philippa Gregory has, once again, written a keeper. I have never read a book by this author that I haven't enjoyed, but this one has definitely risen to the top as my favorite. It is one of those books that a reader can get lost in: Jacquetta's life becomes a part of the reader's reality. It is such a joy to read a book that recognises the power women always have held, even when it wasn't widely acknowledged. And the love that existed between Jacquetta and Richard is inspiring and delightful. I don't know what lapse in my education left me unaware of Jacquetta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford, Lady of the Rivers, descendant of Melusina the river goddess. Learning about the War of the Roses in school would have been much more interesting had there been a unit on her, for sure! (and yes she was a real person and the book is based on historical fact.)In case you also missed out in history class, Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born in about 1415 and at the age of 17 was married to John of Lancaster, first Duke of Bedford. This alliance to the Lancasters would be one she honored even in times of trial and disaster for the family. She became the second most powerful woman in England and ancester to the present British monarchy. From all accounts she was a strong willed woman who followed her heart no matter the cost. She is said to have dabbled in witchcraft, just a bit - or maybe more, who knows for sure. What we do know about her life sparks the imagination and Philippa Gregory used that spark to create a work of literary art.
I would give this more than five stars if I could! A superb book. The madness of Henry VI was brilliantly portrayed, as was the character of Maragret of Anjou. The slide into war is chilling, and I got to the point where I could scarcely turn the pages as I knew the Battle of Towton was looming. Having encountered Jacquetta in the previous two books it was good to have a novel told from her point of view.
I couldn't stop reading this book and picked it up every chance I could get until I finished it. It's a bit long, but worth it. In fact, when the story ended I had hoped to read more. That's good writing. Now I want to read the next book, but I do have the non-fiction book, The Women of the Cousin's War, so I think I'll indulge in that a bit while waiting. There is just something about Gregory's writing that draws me every time. It feels so real that I forget I'm reading. She brings her characters to life. The Lady of the Rivers was full of action, very interesting, incredibly romantic, and kept my interest throughout. The author showed the horrors of war, and the sometimes agonizing service of noblemen for a troubled royal family and their kingdom very well. Sometimes with historical fiction it feels like the author is informing the reader about history, but with Gregory's characters, she brings history to life.I loved that Gregory showed the whole witchcraft thing not as something Jacquetta embraced, but avoided whenever possible. In fact, Jacquetta didn't want to have anything to do with it, but she had this gift as a descendant of Melusina. She had a gift that often foretold sad and tragic things. I was impressed that she resisted as much as she did considering it seemed like many times her foretelling came to pass, so most people would want to know more. But she was a loyal and faithful wife and mother who wanted the best for her family. That didn't include jeopardizing their well-being over some things that could brand her as a witch. And the way people were in those days, she was smart to tread very carefully around the subject. I had to admire her and her husband's loyalty for so long to a queen bent on vengeance. How sad that so many people died for one woman's need for revenge. I thought it was cool how this story tied in a bit with The Red Queen, which I read a few years ago. I recalled some of the battles and the shifting loyalties from that title. This story began with Jacquetta getting to know Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake and another woman who was intelligent and trying to educate herself, but misunderstood. Jacquetta was a smart and resourceful woman (and VERY fertile) and she was a real asset to the Lancaster throne. I found the subplot with the queen and the Duke of Somerset quite enthralling. When the king fell ill after being shocked by what he saw, I became wrapped up in the intrigue. Would he wake, and when he did, what would happen? Did Jacquetta's intervention cause his sleep. She was so worried that she had somehow caused it. I understood the queen's loneliness as well as Jacquetta's before Richard won her heart and they married. The author did a great job with creating empathy for the characters.The best part of the book was probably the love story between Richard and his wife, Jacquetta, who married for love, but at a great risk. I enjoyed the parts of the story where she looked for him after different battles and how she waiting fitfully for his safe return. When they ran to meet each other each time it was sigh-worthy. There were good marriages even in the middle ages. The fact that they had fourteen children was proof of that. I could go on and on about this book, but bottom line is the story was so compelling and interesting that it's making my best fiction list for 2011 because it made me think and feel a connection to the characters that I won't soon forget.
This book was an amazing love story that lasts despite wars between friends and familial bonds. The focus of the story is on Jacquetta de Pol, a noblewoman of the house of Luxemburg and her marriage of to the Duke of Bedford. This raises Jacquetta to the highest ranking woman in English held France. The story follows Jacquetta to England as the Dowager Duchess carves out a new life for herself with the love of her life, Richard Woodville. As Duchess of Bedford, Jacquetta is endebted to serve her Brother-In-Law, King Henry VI and his Bride, Margaret of Valois.
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