‘The Lady of the Rivers’

The Lady of the Rivers

by Philippa Gregory

Touchstone

Pub. Date: October 18, 2011

The Lady of the Rivers follows Jaquetta, Duchess of Bedford, from the events surrounding Joan of Arc through the War of the Roses in 15th century England.  She has a gift of seeing mysterious glimpses of the future through visions, a trait passed down to her from her ancestor Melusina, the river goddess.  Although one of the less sensational figures of the time, Gregory chose the perfect character to follow through this narrative.  Jaquetta had a relationship to Joan of Arc in her childhood that colors her perceptions through the rest of the era, and she became the mother to the Queen of England by the end of her story.  By following a seemingly background character through all of her travails, the reader soon discovers that the truest perspective comes from the people who are often overshadowed.

Gregory has a rare ability of taking one through the adventures of royal history without giving the overly romantic diatribe that is often the case with historical fiction.  It is obvious that her works are well researched and are not overly sensationalized, as she gives a realism that often makes the reader forget that it is a fictionalized account.  The Lady of the Rivers is no exception to Gregory’s honed storytelling and talent of giving us a window to the past in her third installment of The Cousins’ War series.

Filled with mysticism, witchcraft, battles- both personal and political, and the simple act of survival, there is not a beat missed in the story of the dynamic Jaquetta.  At a time where it was absurd to think of women in a position of power, she leads us through the reaction to the reign of Queen Margaret, while King Henry VI was suffering from a mental breakdown.  It is a story of what people will do to survive and to gain control, in differing degrees, and need to follow the changing of the times.  The Lady of the Rivers is a must-read for any fan of Gregory’s, or for the English historical fiction lover.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller. 

For more about Philippa Gregory, visit her website here.

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3 thoughts on “‘The Lady of the Rivers’

  1. I’ve read Gregory before and she’s wonderful on the machinations of all those mediaeval twists and turns and twisters and turners. She has an enormous command of the period but delivers it with a light touch. And I very much like the sound of this book. Thank you for the hint of what it contains in your review.

    • I have always enjoyed Gregory’s work, as well. Thank you for your comment- I always try not to give too much of the story away. This blog is a kind of “no spoiler zone,” if you will.

  2. Gregory always brings her characters to life in a way that makes me want to find out more. While she takes liberties with history at times, she weaves everything together very well.

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