The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory is the third of her books in the series entitled The Cousins' War, but the time in which it is set precedes those books in the series written previously, The White Queen and The Red Queen.

The Women of the Cousins' War: the Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother published in 2011 and also by Phillipa Gregory, working with others, makes use of original documents, archaeology, and other sources to share, in a historical work, the stories of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford (The Lady of the Rivers) ; Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV (The White Queen) ; and Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen), the founder of the Tudor dynasty. This is one example of the depth of the research Gregory does for her historical fiction.

In The Lady of the Rivers Gregory focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, a strong woman who, although she is not a well known historical figure, is involved in many events preceding, following, and during The War of the Roses. Jacquetta is a descendant of Melusina, the water goddess, and possesses some powers of foretelling. She is reluctant to use those powers, but is required to by her first husband the Duke of Bedford and by Margaret of Anjou, the Queen of England who she serves for many years. As a young girl, Jacquetta befriends Joan of Arc and witnesses her execution. Throughout her long life, Jacquetta deals with what it means to be a strong and intelligent woman in a world ruled by and dominated by men and she also deals with balancing her abilities of foretelling and her knowledge of alchemy with the charges of witchcraft that are often leveled at those with such powers.

Any reader familiar with and a fan of the work of Phillipa Gregory will enjoy this historical work. A reader new to this author will find that the strengths of The Lady of the Rivers, as of other works by Gregory, are well drawn characters and dialogue, satisfying friendships and romantic relationships, and excellent descriptions and details of daily life, which provide a strong sense of place and of living in the time.

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