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The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers

by Philippa Gregory

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cousins' War (3)

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It's been a long time since I read a Phillippa Gregory novel and this one did not disappoint. In this book she tells the story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg who was married at a very young age to the Duke of Bedford, the brother of the king of Enland and tehn later, in a love match to Richard Woodville, the 1st Earl of Rivers. Her eldest daughter, Elizabeth, subsequently married King Edward IV, thus making Jacquetta the historical matriarch of the Tudor kings and Queens.

This novel begins with the 100 years War with England pursuing Joan of Arc while trying to hold on to their possessions in France. It is intimated that Jacquetta is taught witchcraft by her elderly aunt and also has the gift and sight and is able to foretell the future. Her aunt tries to save Joan from the English, but in the end fails and we see Joan marched to the stake.

Then Jacquetta is married off to the much older uke of Bedford, the brother of the English king. e does not want her for sex. Instead he want to keep her chaste so he can use her powers of sight and to help him in his experiments in alchemy. After he dies, Jacquetta takes up with his squire, Richard Woodville, and they marry in what is very much a love match.

In the meantime, the King dies and the new King Henry VI, is too young to rule. and is put under a regency of the Duke of York, enraging his Lancaster relatives. The War of the Roses is about to begin. Jacquetta and Richard support Henry and his French wife, Margaret.

Richard is almost constantly away at war - mostly in France defending England's last French possessions, but alos in Englad fighting the York forces. Jacquetta is a favorite of the Queen and apparently spends most of her time being pregnant and bearing 12 children. The king is ineffectual and maybe mentally ill and teh Queen is greedy and venal, and perhaps her son and heir has really been fathered by someone else.

The plot twists and turns but holds your interest until the very end, when, banished from court, Jacquetta sees her eldest daughter, Elizabeth with the new King Edward and knows that her family is still in the game. Anyone who likes historical fiction will like this Novel. ( )
  etxgardener | Jun 5, 2019 |
It took me way longer to finish this one than I was expecting. I was on vacation and busy for the last five days though so that kept me from reading. It is a little long winded with a lot of stuff happening but still dragged a little. I did really enjoy it though. I just think this series is similar to Outlander in the way that I'll have to take a little break in between each book. It is amazing how childish and selfish the King and Queen are during their whole reign. I am surprised it took so long to take power from them. Jacquetta as a main character was very appealing and her love story with Richard is amazing. I am excited to continue on with the series. ( )
  KeriLynneD | Mar 23, 2019 |
The Lady of the Rivers is the story of Jacquetta St. Pol, a young woman from a wealthy family. She came to England from Luxembourg when she married the English Duke of Bedford. It was an arranged marriage. Her family wanted her to have wealth, title, and influence, but the Duke wanted something unusual. Jacquetta's family claimed they were descended from the water deity Melusina. He wanted to use her power to learn about his rivals and enemies.

Jacquetta is much younger than her husband and is widowed at age nineteen. Her husband's last request of his wife demonstrates that he thought of her as a possession rather than as someone he could respect and confide in. Perhaps from a need for respect or from love or desire, but Jacquetta's second marriage is the opposite of her first.

I love the way Philippa Gregory maintained historical accuracy, but also managed to weave Jacquetta's mystic abilities into the story. Here is an excerpt from a conversation where her great-aunt is explaining the sight she seems to have inherited:

“You have to listen,” she says softly. “Listen to the silence, watch for nothing. And be on your guard. Melusina is a shape-shifter; like quicksilver, she can flow from one thing to another. You may see her anywhere; she is like water. Or you may see only your own reflection in the surface of a stream though you are straining your eyes to see into the green depths for her.”

I also love the way Jacquetta's character is constantly drawn between the goals of power and duty vs. the desire for family and safety. Her two marriages demonstrate this, but this goes on throughout the book as both Jacquetta and Richard, her second husband, must take sides in the power struggles of the times.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross. ( )
  SteveLindahl | Jan 2, 2019 |
Theoretically, I'm a big, fat snob when it comes to historical fiction - any fiction, really. I didn't expect to particularly like Philippa Gregory, but I really do, and I'm enjoying the Cousin's War series. So much has been written about the Tudors, so it's interesting to go back a generation or two and try to understand the War of the Roses. At a simplistic level, no doubt, but I know more now than I did when I started the book, and that's pretty much all I ask.

"'I believe that a desire and a prayer and a spell are all the same thing,' I say. 'When you pray, you know that you want something, that's always the first step. To let yourself know that you want something, that you yearn for it. Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do. Because you have to have courage to know what you desire. You have to have courage to acknowledge that you are unhappy without it. And sometimes you have to find [the] courage to know that it was your folly or your wrongdoing which lost it; before you make a spell to bring it back, you have to change yourself. That's one of the deepest transformations that can be.'"

~ The Lady of the Rivers, Philippa Gregory, p. 207 ( )
  CatherineBurkeHines | Nov 28, 2018 |
Third in the series "The Cousins' War", but chronologically the first of them, opening in 1430. Very helpful to read this one before "The White Queen". ( )
  KayCliff | Oct 15, 2018 |
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Philippa Gregoryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Third in the series "The Cousins' War", but chronologically the first of them, opening in 1430. Very helpful to read this one before "The White Queen".
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When the death of Joan of Arc shows her the dangers faced by strong women, Jacquetta, a psychic descendant of a river goddess, studies alchemy and becomes the secret wife of Richard Woodville before returning to the court of Henry VI.

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