Book Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Genre: Historical fiction

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub date: 15 September 2011

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Jacquetta was a daughter of the Count of Luxembourg. As a girl Jacquetta meets Joan of Arc and witnesses her execution. Whilst at court, she catches the eye of the Duke of Bedford, uncle to the young King Henry VI. The Duke of Bedford is aware of Jacquettas fabled ancestry to the water goddess Melusina.

Jacquetta becomes the Duchess of Bedford and is brought to England. At age 19 Jacquetta is left a widow with only the Dukes faithful squire Richard Woodville to help her. Having spent so much time together they fell in love and took the risk of marrying without permission. They were banished but it wasn’t long before they were asked back to court and Jacquetta is asked to accompany Margaret of Anjou to her wedding to King Henry VI.

The newly married couple don’t have the support of all nobility due to their favouritism of others and so begins the War of the Roses. Jacquetta and her family are clearly on the side of the Lancastrians but Jacquetta begins to tire of war and revenge.

I adore Jacquetta in this book, she’s brave, loyal, intelligent and her family and friends are her priority.

Yes she is ambitious for her family but not at the cost of their loyalty or safety. Jacquetta has high hopes for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville who inherits her beauty but her first wedding may not provide the opportunities expected.

The portrayal of Henry VI is fantastic especially when he becomes unwell.

I also enjoyed the references to Melusina and the hints of magic through the book, it wasn’t overpowering and gave the story a mythical element although I am aware Jacquettas family did believe they descended from Melusina.

The battles throughout, although Jacquetta isn’t present are described with enough detail to provide the reader with an idea of the challenges faced. This is fiction but is based on history including the battles and has obviously been researched to a high degree. Jacquetta seems to have lived a very dramatic and often dangerous life and I would very much like to learn more about her.

This one is chronologically first in the series of the Cousins’ War. It’s a fantastic read and I cannot wait to read more, I will be reading The White Queen next. I am thankful I read this first as per a suggestion due to the fact it leads perfectly into The White Queen.

The Lady of the Rivers is available here:


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