The Lady of The Rivers – Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers

This is the third of Philippa Gregory’s Cousin’ War series and here the focus is on Jacquetta, mother of the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville.  Jacquetta has been rather neglected as an historical figure but the author aims to make amends for that oversight in this compelling portrayal of a fascinating woman.

Jacquetta had an extremely eventful life – even though she became very wealthy as a result of her arranged first marriage to the Duke of Bedford she chose to marry for love in her second marriage to Richard Woodville, the Duke’s squire.  As favourites of King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, Jacquetta and Richard are privy to all the shenanigans of courtly life but England is in turmoil with the constant rivalry between the Houses of Lancaster and York so their royal connections don’t always work in their favour.

As in The White Queen, there are frequent allusions to Jacquetta’s alleged ancestor, the river goddess Melusina and the story is imbued with water images.  This adds an ethereal, magical aspect which enhances the story whilst not overpowering the historical facts.  Having said that, Jacquetta seems to have been a formidable woman in her own right, bearing 16 children during her marriage to Richard, yet still having time to be a close confidante of the queen.

The Lady of the Rivers is an extremely engaging tale of an extraordinary woman who fought constant obstacles to ensure an auspicious future for her family.  I’m now looking forward to the next in the series about Elizabeth of York.

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  1. I like Philippa Gregory but think I do prefer her Tudor series. Is there lots about the goddess Melusine in this one? That put me off The White Queen a bit…

  2. admin says:

    I also loved her Tudor series, Sam but this series is growing on me. There is less reference to Melusine than in The White Queen so I think you might enjoy this one!

  3. Helen says:

    I’ve enjoyed all three of these books, but I think this one is my favourite. It was interesting to learn about one of the lesser known figures of the period.

  4. admin says:

    I mostly studied Irish history at school, Helen, so Philippa is my teacher for the gaps! I do like Jacquetta. :-)

  5. SazzyMCH says:

    So, read them in published order – or timeline order???

  6. Treez says:

    You can read them in whatever order you wish, Sarah. I read them as they were published but as there was a gap between each book there was no problem and they could all be read as stand-alone works. It’s not a traditional book “series” in that respect. Have you read any of the series yet?

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