The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory is a novel in the “Cousins’ War” series which tells the story of the noble family that paved the way for the Tudors. If you haven’t read any of the other novels in the series, don’t let that stop you from reading this one. It isn’t necessary to read the others first, but it may make you want to go back and read them after you’ve finished.
“A story rich in passion and legend, “The Lady of the Rivers” is the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.
When Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, he introduces her 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 their royal York rivals. As Jacquetta fights for her king and her queen, she can see an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York…” – The Lady of the Rivers
The Lady of the Rivers is written with a significant amount of historical accuracy, right down to the speech and mannerisms used during this part of history. I can’t stand historical novels that put in words that weren’t used back then or clothing descriptions that come from this century as opposed to then. You won’t find those issues in this book.
As for the characters, I found them to be intriguing and memorable. Jacquetta is by far my favorite character, and her gift of second sight and her link to a Goddess kept things interesting throughout the novel. Women struggled to be a part of society and to have power in this era, so her power showed hope for women in the future.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Historical fiction is either a hit or a miss, and this one is definitely a hit. If you are a history buff and enjoy historical books and/or movies, this is one that I think you will really enjoy. I highly recommend it.
* Thank you to the publisher of The Lady of the Rivers, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.