The Lady of the Rivers

Published January 19, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

the lady of the rivers coverReview of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Overview from The Lady of the Rivers is #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s remarkable story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.

My Review:

This book is the third installment in The Cousins’ War series but don’t think you need to have read the first two to understand what is going on—far from it. In fact, the plot of this book actually takes places before The White Queen which is the first book of the series.

The main character of this book, Jacquetta, is “the white queen’s” mother so I think if you’re new to the series, it makes more sense to start with this book and then read The White Queen. I wish I could have had the option to do that first.

Jacquetta’s story starts out in France where she was born and raised. The English are taking over much of the country and have caught Joan of Arc. They want to get rid of her but Jacquetta’s family has her and won’t give her up—at first.

Of course, those who know their history know that the English eventually burn Joan as a witch and Jacquetta feels guilt over the incident because she did nothing to stop it. She soon realizes that women who dare to do great things are punished for them unless it is at the request of someone important.

Jacquetta herself is soon asked to try to look in the mirror and try to see a future for her new husband, the Duke of Bedford, as well as the English army. She tries her best but is saddened that her husband sees her only as a fortune-teller and not as a woman. She eventually finds the love that she is looking for in her second husband. Together they spend much of the novel trying to keep themselves and their children alive and happy.

Overall, I liked this book. I like how the author seems to seamlessly blend Historical Fiction with Fantasy. I got the sense that Jacquetta is unique somehow. She has a special gift. But the gift does not tell her everything nor does it help her to overcome all of the obstacles that she and her family face. The legend of the female ancestor who was a fish, along with the gift are what make her seem as though she dwells in a fairy tale but her inability to alter many events and instead become victim to them are what make her seem still human.

It has been a while since I read The White Queen and The Red Queen but so far I think this one is my favorite book in this series. The other two make so much more sense now. I also like some of the inside jokes we get about what some characters think other characters will become in future, especially in the cases where we know they are wrong.

I don’t know what Philippa Gregory’s next book is going to cover but I really hope that she will cover the Elizabeth who is the white queen’s daughter. I would be very interested in reading her story and seeing what she thinks of her husband. In the meantime, the other three books are very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes Historical Fiction with interesting female characters.

Contains: some violence and sexuality

Philippa Gregory discusses The Lady of the Rivers


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