Book Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I should just know better than to pick up a Philippa Gregory book when I will have to put it down…..stupid me! I am a HUGE Gregory fan, and this latest of her Cousins Wars series books did NOT disappoint.

lady of the riversThe Lady of the Rivers is a prelude to The White Queenanother of my favorites. Basically, I love every book in this series.

Ok, on to the review: Jaquetta – the heroine of this beautifully written novel, is a descendent of Melusina – believed to be a goddess of the river – which carries much weight. The daughters of Melusina share an incredible gift (or, sometimes, a burden): the gift of sight….

No, I’m not talking the ability to see…but the ability to SEE … as in the future! Jaquetta learns of this gift from her aunt while Joan of Arc is held prisoner at her uncles estate. She learns that women, unfortunately, are not respected or revered for their ability to challenge the thoughts of men; they are expected to just follow along in the path created for them by their fathers and then husbands. This gift of sight is one to keep to herself, no matter who requests her assistance.

As the story evolves, Jaquetta marries the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France – and throughout their time together, he introduces her to the world of Alchemy and, despite what she’s been taught of her gift, actually reveres her (and marries her!) for it. The Dukes’ squire, Richard Woodville, becomes a close and trusted friend – and eventually, the object of her love and desire.

When the Duke passes (he was WAY older than her!), Jaquetta marries Woodville in secret, begs of the King for pardon (as that is NOT allowed) and forgoes her titles and dowry in order to be with her true love. It is during this time that the King, who assumed the throne young and is quite weak, marries.

Jaquetta and Richard are charged with bringing the new Queen to meet the King….standing at their sides for the nuptials. As a result, both rise to great fortune within the court.

Ambitious and reckless, the Queen pushes the boundaries of “allowed behavior” for women – especially because her King is weak and unable to produce an heir. Jaquetta, at the center of the tummult, ambition and desires of the Queen, must learn to use her gift to protect her growing family.

I’m sure I have not done this story justice, but I simply cannot put into words the complexity of the stories. It is not a hard read – in fact, it’s an easy one – and one you won’t want to put down.

Historical fiction is my thing, and if its yours – you’ll love this book. It predates The Other Boleyn Girl (probably my favorite of Gregory’s books) and is just as beautifully written.

Gregory has a mastered the art of historical fiction – she’s created stories where none existed and has allowed readers to travel to a time of ambitious Kings and Queens, ruthless underlings and siblings, fanciful courts and brutal wars.

Rachael’s Grade:

Writing: A

Character Development: A

Plot: A

Next up: 2 GREAT Books:

How to Raise a Jewish Dog by The Rabbis of the Boca Raton Theological Seminary as told tyo Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman


Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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