10 April 2012

The Lady of the Rivers (Philippa Gregory)

She’s done it again.

Philippa Gregory isn’t known as the queen of historical fiction for nothing. In this, the third part of her Cousins / War of the Roses series, she goes further back in time than usual (and further back than either The White Queen or The Red Queen).

The Lady of the Rivers introduces us to Jacquetta: young bride to the English regent of France, the Duke of Bedford.

Descended from Melusina, the fabled river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of ‘sight’ – but, having watched Joan of Arc burned at the stake for witchcraft, she understands only too well the dangers for a beautiful girl with intuitive powers.

As she grows into womanhood, Jacquetta rises to a prestigious place at the Lancaster court of King Henry VI and Queen Margaret. But she must face both the swirling threats of popular unrest and the more sinister machinations of royal rivals.

After a terrible shock, the king slides into a mysterious sleep, his volatile and easily influenced queen places her trust in scheming conspirators and bloodthirsty thugs and Richard, the grand Duke of York, threatens to snatch away the entire kingdom.

Fortunes rise and fall, as this well-researched, well-conceived and sweeping epic introduces us to the real-life mother of the White Queen. I loved this book but then, I love all of Gregory’s books. So it’s important for me to issue this disclaimer:

If you’re a Gregory fan, and your favourite of her books is The Other Boleyn Girl, there’s a chance that this novel – and the other Roses books – will prove too historical and insufficiently fictional. But if you’re a die-hard consumer of largely fact-based writing, or you’re passionate about the royals of yore and yon, you’ll love it.


Photo credit: Google Images

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