The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers

by Philippa Gregory


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Passion. Danger. Witchcraft . . .

The Lady of the Rivers is #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s remarkable story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.

Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty.

Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.

A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother of the white queen.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416563709
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Series: Plantagenet and Tudor Series
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 585,614
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her work has been adapted for the screen in The Other Boleyn Girl movie and the critically acclaimed STARZ miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Her most recent novel is The Last Tudor. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds two honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She welcomes visitors to her website,


Yorkshire, England

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa


B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Lady of the Rivers includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Phillipa Gregory. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The life of Jacquetta is extraordinary. She is born into the St Pol family, the rulers of the Duchy of Luxembourg, and witnesses the fate of Joan of Arc while still a girl. Married as a matter of policy to the great Duke of Bedford, it is only when she is a young widow that she can begin to shape her own destiny. Though she has the Sight, at once a blessing and a burden, she still has to navigate the waters of the English court and attempt to build a stable future for her growing family in a time of great change and increasing danger. Her longed-for marriage to Richard Woodville is a deep and abiding love match but comes at a great cost, and their rise in the world is followed by yet further twists in fortune. Yet Jacquetta Woodville, Lady Rivers, is a unique and powerful character and one who manages to place her family in a key position to survive the forthcoming wars.


  1. Jacquetta’s first main influence is her great-aunt, Jehanne of Luxembourg, who tells her: ‘A woman who seeks great power and wealth has to pay a great price.’ Why do you think she says this to her niece? Was she right, and what sorts of power would she have been referring to? Do we see the women in the story exercising other kinds of power?
  1. Joan of Arc is absolutely certain that her voices come from God. Jacquetta is much less sure where hers are from, saying, ‘I never think of it as a gift coming from God or the Devil.’ What sort of voices do you think they are hearing, and do their different beliefs affect the future of either character?
  1. As the story opens, England is ruled by the boy king, Henry VI, as his father has died following his famous conquests in France. Was Henry V an impossible act to follow? What kinds of pressure were there on the young Henry VI? And how might things have been different if his father had not died when he did?
  1. ‘The whole of France is ours by right,’ says the Duke of Bedford. Would most people have thought that at the time and how does that idea seem to us nowadays? Why did England want lands in France? Jacquetta has a strong vision that ‘it won’t be him [Henry VI] who loses Calais’; what is the significance of this? Is this the author giving a nod to the actual (but far later) historical event of the loss of Calais?
  1. The Duke of Bedford surrounds himself with alchemists and astrologers, in his search for the philosopher’s stone. Do you think this makes him a man of science or superstition, and is Jacquetta just another scientific instrument?
  1. How does this search for knowledge compare to the women’s practice of witchcraft, for example Margery Jourdemayne and her planting by the stars? Jacquetta later says, ‘Every woman is a mad ugly bad old witch somewhere in her heart’. What does she mean by this and do you agree?
  1. Both Jacquetta and Margaret d’Anjou leave their native country as very young women, never to see their mothers again. Compare the way they cope with this and in what ways it affects their later lives. What sort of mothers do they themselves turn out to be?
  1. Henry V’s judgements are often inconsistent, for example on his summer progress when nobody can be sure if they will be punished or pardoned. He and Margaret are also known for the lavish rewards heaped on their favourites. So was Jack Cade right to rebel? Should a subject always be loyal to the monarch?
  1. When Jacquetta and Richard Woodville finally get together, she says, ‘I have become a woman of earth and fire, and I am no longer a girl of water and air.’ How has the author used imagery of the elements throughout the book?
  1. Even though Jacquetta realises Elizabeth has the Sight, she is reluctant to pass on the knowledge of how to use it to her daughter. Yet, she does so. Given the danger if they were discovered, should she have done this? And was she right to lie to Elizabeth on her wedding, when she felt there would be no real future for the marriage?
  1. Jacquetta and Richard are drawn together by their passionate love and dare to marry against the odds. But what keeps them together, through their many separations, the birth of so many children and the frequent turns in their fortunes and status? Do you think their relationship changes?
  1. After the battle of Blore Heath, Jacquetta takes shelter with a blacksmith and his family, and realises ‘these are the people that we should be fighting for’. What does this night on the flea-ridden mattress teach her? What do you make of the blacksmith’s comment, ‘It’s a good day already, the best we’ve ever had’?
  1. Jacquetta fears that she has almost come full circle, and that she’ll find herself in ‘a country which was like that of my childhood, with one king in the north and one in the south, and everyone forced to choose which they thought was the true one and everyone knowing their enemy and waiting for revenge’. Do you think this comes true? And how did those early days prepare her to survive and even thrive with her family?
  1. When Margaret abandons Jacquetta to potential danger, she tells her, ‘They won’t hurt you, Jacquetta. Everyone likes you.’ Do you feel she’s right?
  1. The Lord Mayor of London sends for Jacquetta to act as an intermediary between the aldermen of the city and the queen. This is a recorded historical event, one of the rare times that Jacquetta is acting as a principal in a major event. How different is this to anything she’s attempted before? And is Richard right when he says ‘No other woman could have done it’?

  1. Philippa’s website,, is replete with information about The Lady of the Rivers and all of her other novels. You can watch video interviews, learn more about all of Philippa’s books, read her impressions on her travels around the world, join in an international discussion topic, learn about and participate in several historical debates, make a donation to the Gardens of Gambia, Philippa’s charity, and sign up to receive her newsletter.
  2. The Lady of the Rivers sheds light on two other Philippa Gregory stories: The Red Queen and The White Queen. Read one or both of these to enhance your understanding and enrich your experience.
  3. Consider serving foods from the time period at your book discussion. For example, look up recipes on or for potted fruit or gingerbread, both of which are served at Jacquetta’s wedding to the Duke of Bedford (p. 41). When hiding from soldiers at a blacksmith’s house, Jacquetta muses, “they have a corner of black bread made with rye, they have never tasted white bread” (p. 329). Serve a luxurious white bread next to a hearty, dark bread to symbolize the great divide between the nobility and the peasantry.
  1. For the fascinating history behind Philippa’s series about the Cousins’ War, read The Women of the Cousins’ War, a book of nonfiction in which Philippa is joined by two other eminent historians to present the lives of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville; and Margaret Beaufort.

Having written The White Queen and The Red Queen, what inspired you to further explore the story of Jacquetta, a lesser-known historical figure?

I found Jacquetta’s influence on her daughter completely fascinating when I was doing the research for The White Queen. It was hard to track her life as she is only occasionally mentioned in the historical record, but her marriage to the Duke of Bedford marks her entry to the historical records, and her second marriage to Richard Woodville was an international scandal at the time. She seemed to me to be really worthy of her own biography and novel and since no one has yet written her biography I have researched and am publishing an account of her life in a nonfiction book: The Women of the Cousins’ War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King’s Mother.

As the author of several international bestsellers, you have fans from all over the world. How has the increase in your success and popularity affected your relationship with your fans?

I am conscious that very many people use my book as a starting point for their own studies, that many people want to know more about me and my work and so I maintain my website with regular updates and material, and I am really grateful for their enthusiasm and affection for my work.

The Lady of the Rivers contains several references to the difficulty the women of this time face in a man’s world. Did you find it challenging to research so many instances of women being subjugated, punished, even put to death because they dared to think and act for themselves?

I think the women in this novel, as the women in many of my novels, are the heroines of women today—they are our fore-mothers. Their courage and struggle for their rights is an example and an inspiration to me. I love to write about them and bring their stories to modern men and women.

In “The History Debates” section of your website, you pose the question of the difference between history and historical fiction. You write: “The imagination is where the historians are almost indistinguishable from the novelists.” Can you expand more on this notion?

All historians have to work with their imagination to fill in the gaps in the historical facts, they have to imagine what is happening when we have no way of knowing for sure. Also, most histories consider the character and inner life of their subjects and this is exactly what a historical novelist does. No one could write a history of a character without imagining them.

Can you tell us more about your charity, Gardens for The Gambia?

I visited The Gambia in West Africa when I was researching my novel on slavery, A Respectable Trade. While I was there I met a Gambian school teacher and together we have worked to put fresh-water wells into primary schools in The Gambia, a very dry and very poor country. The project has been so successful that we have now done almost 200 wells, and we are now setting up beehive co-operatives and we teach pottery-making, gardening, and batik workshops. In fact, we are the biggest well-digging charity in The Gambia and have recently completed a big project with Rotary International. If anyone would like to join with me in this wonderful work they can donate online at

Is there one historical figure who has particularly surprised or affected you?

I think I was especially moved by the early life of Katherine of Aragon which is not generally known but which shows a young woman in extraordinary circumstances. More recently, the story of Elizabeth Woodville who was an English commoner and rose to be one of the most glamorous and successful queens of England was a wonderful story to research.

Do you follow the same process for research and writing or does it change from book to book? Where did you write The Lady of the Rivers?

I use the same process for all my books. I visit significant sites, I talk to specialist historians and museum curators, I read and read and read, and when I have completed about four months of research I start to write, and then rewrite, while continuing to read. The whole process takes about 18 months. I work wherever in the world I happen to be, and I often travel with a box of research notes!

Are you planning to write more about the Plantagenet line, or will you shift focus to a different family or century?

I am going to write three more books at least on the Plantagenets, as I think they are a fascinating family.

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The Lady of the Rivers 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 200 reviews.
onthegogma More than 1 year ago
I have really enjoyed reading this book. I have read the Red Queen and the White Queen, and would recommend all three. However, I wish Phjilippa Gregory had written this book first. If you are new to these books read The Lady of the Rivers first.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Jacquetta is married to the much older Duke of Bedford, who is the English Regent of France. He has heard of her gift of second sight and introduces her to a world of education, which was not exactly the forte of women in this era. Jacquette was also introduced to alchemists working for the Duke. When the Duke passes away he leaves Jacquetta a very wealthy widow. Her only friend turns out to be Richard Woodville, the Duke's squire, who is at Jacquetta's side when her husband dies. The two fall in love and marry without the knowledge of the King, which is a no-no, for the King has to approve all royal marriages. They are fined and sent away from the Court of King Henry VI but are welcomed back eventually and Jacquetta becomes the Queen's closest confidante. The Woodvilles soon become friends of the Court although Jacquetta, in between childbearing (11 children), senses the growing threat from the royal rivals (Lancaster and York). The House of Lancaster tries to keep the Court intact but, the House of York want the throne and, during all this, the King is taken ill. Queen Margaret turns to untrustworthy people for help and the Duke of York threatens to overturn the kingdom. Jacquetta and her husband fight for the King and Queen and for their daughter Elizabeth Woodville. Jacquetta has foreseen a fabulous life for Elizabeth including a fortune and maybe the throne of England sometime in the future. This author is an acclaimed writer of British History. The Lady of the Rivers is another about the Lancasters and the Yorks who were both after the throne of England. These people were all related to each other as the readers can see when the family trees are printed. But, Ms. Gregory is a master storyteller and Elizabeth Woodville is the heroine who will become Queen when everything is figured out. This is a powerful story which is very passionate and as the author tells the legendary story of Jacquetta and Elizabeth Woodville the reader will become enthralled with the story of the Lady of the Rivers. Quill Says: This author is well-known in the field of English History. This book is part of a series called The Cousins' War, featuring the Plantagenets and tells of the Wars of the Roses, a very violent time in the history of the English Royals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since i'm typing this out on my nook i'll keep it brief. I'm a sucker for this genre. Even though the rational part of my brain recognizes Greggory as a sub-par author, I'm still typical drawn into her books which range from great (TOBG) to downright unreadable (Wildacre series). This falls somewhere in the middle, and also falls short of its sequel The White Queen. In TWQ I found the characters much more dynamic and well thought out. Elizabeth actually has an arc. She grows and changes ovee time. Here.... not so much. The only really interesting character here is probably Margaret of Anjou. Also, for a story that takes place in an incredibly interesting period of history, not much actual history happens here. A lot of family dynamics, Greggory's incredibly annoying insistance that all woman of history were victims of men... she does this in every book, I swear, and maybe the occassional historical event thrown into the backseat. I find it hard to believe someone as important as Lady Rivers was to the royal court would have so little to say about what was happening on her lands and in her country. This could have been so much better. Still, I think its worth reading if you've enjoyed Greggory's other novels or you're a fan of this genre. Maybe not worth buying, but i'd reccomend lending a copy if you are interested.
bookholiday More than 1 year ago
Great weekend read with great characters. Finished it in a couple of hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a huge phillipa gregory fan ever since i read the other bolelyn girl and fell in love with it. This book definitely did not disappoint and i enjoyed reading it as a part of the trilogy based on the cousins wars. I liked it much better than the red queen and about as much as i enjoyed the white queen. Gregory really brings that time period to life and i particularly enjoyed the fact that it centers on a little known character from that time period. The story was engrossing and moved smoothly, i found it difficult to put down!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1430 near Arras, France, in front of her great-niece fourteen year old Lady Jacquetta, Lady Jehanne asks her prisoner Joan to accept parole by reneging her vows from God and remaining at Lord Luxembourg's Castle of Beaurevoir. Though weary that she erred in crowning the king, Joan, still a country peasant at heart refuses. Jacquetta witnesses the execution of Joan declared a witch by the Duke of Bedford. In 1433 Jacquetta has no say as she is forced to marry recently widowed John, the English Duke Bedford Regent of France. He plans to use her powers to further his ambitions but dies before he can achieve his objective. Still a teen, Jacquetta is now a wealthy widow. The king and her family choose her next spouse, but Jacquetta refuses to obey. Instead she weds Richard Woodville. They have a happy marriage with many children as he serves King Henry VI at the royal court and she serves as the queen's loyal confident while anticipating after Henry the Lancaster dynasty will die too. The third Cousins' War historical thriller (see The Red Queen and The White Queen) is another interesting look at a strong woman who must conceal her fortitude in order to navigate the treacherous male waters. Lady Jacquetta is a fascinating protagonist as she learns from the execution of Joan and the marriage of the king's mother to a Tudor that being strong but smart is an asset even in a male only world. Genre fans will appreciate Philippa Gregory's entertaining medieval biographical fiction of an intelligent courageous woman who not only survives the War of the Roses; she observes her grandson become King of England. Harriet Klausner
DMAB46 More than 1 year ago
This is supposed to be either the 2nd or 3rd in the series, I think it should be the 1st since it tells you about the Baron & Lady Rivers. The history is right on and the storytelling is very interesting and bring you into it. I read it in one night. Also read the White Queen. I got this book because of the mini-series, The White Queen and I wanted to learn more about Lady Rivers, who is Queen Elizabeth's mother. If you to learn about history but in a story not just facts thrown at you then you will like this book and basically all books by Philippa Gregory. She gives you the historical facts in a storylike manner and makes you care about that time period and the people that were involved in that time period. Wish my highs chool history book was like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good contection to the others in the series. However, it didn't keep my interest as well as the previous books in this series.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Anonymous 4 months ago
A wonderful book. That way it’s written makes you feel as if you’re not reading but watching it. I would love to see Starz make this into a show!!!
DebbieInFL 4 months ago
I love all Philippa Gregory books, especially the ones about English Royalty. She absolutely makes you fee like you are there, living in her story. This series (The Red Queen, The Lady of the Rivers, The White Queen, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, The White Princess) is the best. There is a little overlap because each book is about a different character, but it is worth it to get the real background of each character. In fact they are so good, I re-read them about every 3 years. I just can’t get enough!
Anonymous 5 months ago
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Danieluvs2read More than 1 year ago
“She tried to live like an ordinary woman, but some women cannot live an ordinary life. She tried to walk in the common ways, but some women cannot put their feet to the path. This is a man’s world, Jacquetta, and some women cannot march to the beat of a man’s drum.” I enjoyed this book very much. I love how Philippa Gregory can forge an extraordinary story from real events. She creates these characters with such passion and love. You fall in love with the characters and hate them as well. She dives you right into the story as if you were out on the battlefield or sitting in the queen’s chamber. It was fascinating how she involved magic into the main character, and how she foreshadowed events with the gift of Jacquetta. You can’t help but admire the loyalty Jacquetta and Richard had towards their king and queen. And yet how many times they were torn apart because of the greediness of power with the king and queen, they always came back to each other with more love than they had before. It shows you that true love back then existed and was stronger than ever. Philippa Gregory shows the struggle that women had back in the day. That back then it really was a man’s world and women who stray from the path pay a sacrifice. Like Joan who was burned and Eleanor who died alone in a prison cell. All because they chose a different path, and sought out knowledge that men didn’t like. If you are a historical fiction junky I recommend this book greatly. It’s the first book of the Cousins War and the Plantagenet and Tudor Novels.
Rebecca.Harris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was an amazing love story that lasts despite wars between friends and familial bonds. The focus of the story is on Jacquetta de Pol, a noblewoman of the house of Luxemburg and her marriage of to the Duke of Bedford. This raises Jacquetta to the highest ranking woman in English held France. The story follows Jacquetta to England as the Dowager Duchess carves out a new life for herself with the love of her life, Richard Woodville. As Duchess of Bedford, Jacquetta is endebted to serve her Brother-In-Law, King Henry VI and his Bride, Margaret of Valois.
donagiles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
power struggle for thrown, brothers against one another, told by Jacquetta in 1415, she had numerous children, one only died as a child, her two oldest boys dissapeared, ( were murdered ) as air to thrown. The wars were brutial, sward, lance or club. A wonder there were any men to left to farm. How the human race continued to survive is a mistary as man seams to try to kill off as many as they can all though the years, since cave times. And still at it in these times. How did the world get so full of people ? Now we are running out of land yet , people seem to die so fast and from such a number of things. Well the book is as good as can get about the times with info we have. Very interesting but not sure I'd have survived for long.
DanaBurgess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philippa Gregory has, once again, written a keeper. I have never read a book by this author that I haven't enjoyed, but this one has definitely risen to the top as my favorite. It is one of those books that a reader can get lost in: Jacquetta's life becomes a part of the reader's reality. It is such a joy to read a book that recognises the power women always have held, even when it wasn't widely acknowledged. And the love that existed between Jacquetta and Richard is inspiring and delightful. I don't know what lapse in my education left me unaware of Jacquetta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford, Lady of the Rivers, descendant of Melusina the river goddess. Learning about the War of the Roses in school would have been much more interesting had there been a unit on her, for sure! (and yes she was a real person and the book is based on historical fact.)In case you also missed out in history class, Jacquetta of Luxembourg was born in about 1415 and at the age of 17 was married to John of Lancaster, first Duke of Bedford. This alliance to the Lancasters would be one she honored even in times of trial and disaster for the family. She became the second most powerful woman in England and ancester to the present British monarchy. From all accounts she was a strong willed woman who followed her heart no matter the cost. She is said to have dabbled in witchcraft, just a bit - or maybe more, who knows for sure. What we do know about her life sparks the imagination and Philippa Gregory used that spark to create a work of literary art.
JaneSteen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Where I got the book: review galley from NetGalley.Philippa Gregory takes a step back farther in time with The Lady of the Rivers; after exploring the lives of the various Tudor women in a succession of novels, she now dives into the rich and complicated history of the Wars of the Roses. This was a period in the 1400s in which two branches of the Plantagenet royal family struggled for power over England (and various bits of France). The protagonist in The Lady of the Rivers is Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who is not generally a well-known historical figure. The story covers Jacquetta's life from adolescence to middle age, and Gregory fans will realize that it ends with the beginning of Gregory's 2009 novel The White Queen.I've been critical of Gregory's kings-and-queens novels in the past, mostly because I would like to see more pure fiction from her, but I enjoyed The Lady of the Rivers. As usual, though, I did not find the protagonist particularly interesting; I felt that she was an observer of history rather than being a participant in it. Of course, in those days a noblewoman's role was to run the house and lands while the men fought (Jacquetta does plenty of that) and produce children (Jacquetta had sixteen). So maybe the impression of passivity that I received was due to the necessity of sticking fairly close to historical fact. The bits of white magic that all of Gregory's heroines inevitably indulge in do not come across as exciting enough to compensate me for the lack of action.And yet there were some definite improvements over recent novels in the series. For one thing, Jacquetta gets to travel around quite a bit, and even though she's not in the battles I did get a better sense of being near to the action than I usually do. And the supporting cast was good; I particularly liked Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI's queen, and I found the account of Henry VI's mental illness compelling. There were several other memorable characters; in fact, I now understand the Wars of the Roses a whole lot better. So if you read historical fiction for the history, you'll be satisfied.I'm not going to say much about Gregory's writing idiosyncracies here, since what I was reading was a galley (which had not even been edited for capitalization and paragraph layout; that surprised me). I desperately want to send her the gift of a big bag of semicolons, though. Gregory is the undisputed queen of the comma splice.One last comment; I have been reading Gregory for years, and am fascinated to note that the novels are getting less sensual as time goes on. This one was PG-rated.Overall impression: a good Gregory, and recommended for lovers of English history.
BookPurring on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I read The White Queen a couple of months ago, I was immediately blown away by it. The War of the Roses was a new topic for me, Gregory was a new author for me and I just generally fell in love with it. My fascination with Gregory is starting to fade off, mostly because of this book. The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of Jaquetta of Luxemburg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville (aka The White Queen), and her story is not that interesting to be honest.Jaquetta is basically used in this book to tell the story of Margaret d'Anjou and the beginning of the War of the Roses. In this way the author can imply, a lot of things about Margaret without really going into detail. An example, Margaret's relationship with the Duke of Somerset we never know if they are indeed lovers because we read everything from Jaquetta's POV, who also doesn't know. Jacquetta's first marriage is simply not interesting enough to hold your attention through out the first third of the book, and the author uses an alchemy and links it to Jacquetta's visions (rumor was that she had "powers") but again it's not substantial enough to hold the reader's interest. The book doesn't really grab your attention until you begin to see Margaret's struggles to remain queen of England. The first third of the story seems rather unnecessary and uninteresting.
onetiredmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philippa Gregory discovered when writing about Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen) that her mother's story was little known and just as interesting. She has become the premier historical fiction writer and my favorite because she backs up her novels with meticulous and lengthy research, so much so that she has co-authored a non-fiction book on the subject. (The Women of the Cousins' War).Jacquetta's story starts out in France where the young girl meets Joan of Arc soon before her death. She discovers that she has inherited some of her ancestor Melusina's power of sight. Because of this power and her virginity, the Duke of Bedford, 2nd in power to the King of England, choses her for his bride when his wife passes away. The older man is pbsessed with alchemy and believes that Jacquetta's gift and purity are necessary to the work. He is kind to Jacquetta and she mourns his loss when he dies. Also mourning his loss is his handsome squire, Richard Woodville. The two become lovers and secretly marry. It is thought that the young Duchess marries beneath her but she is content to live in his country home and bear his many children. Unfortunately, the young king and his bride, rely heavily on the Woodvilles during the dangerous political machinations and constant battles that mark that era of English history.
MichelleSutton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stop reading this book and picked it up every chance I could get until I finished it. It's a bit long, but worth it. In fact, when the story ended I had hoped to read more. That's good writing. Now I want to read the next book, but I do have the non-fiction book, The Women of the Cousin's War, so I think I'll indulge in that a bit while waiting. There is just something about Gregory's writing that draws me every time. It feels so real that I forget I'm reading. She brings her characters to life. The Lady of the Rivers was full of action, very interesting, incredibly romantic, and kept my interest throughout. The author showed the horrors of war, and the sometimes agonizing service of noblemen for a troubled royal family and their kingdom very well. Sometimes with historical fiction it feels like the author is informing the reader about history, but with Gregory's characters, she brings history to life.I loved that Gregory showed the whole witchcraft thing not as something Jacquetta embraced, but avoided whenever possible. In fact, Jacquetta didn't want to have anything to do with it, but she had this gift as a descendant of Melusina. She had a gift that often foretold sad and tragic things. I was impressed that she resisted as much as she did considering it seemed like many times her foretelling came to pass, so most people would want to know more. But she was a loyal and faithful wife and mother who wanted the best for her family. That didn't include jeopardizing their well-being over some things that could brand her as a witch. And the way people were in those days, she was smart to tread very carefully around the subject. I had to admire her and her husband's loyalty for so long to a queen bent on vengeance. How sad that so many people died for one woman's need for revenge. I thought it was cool how this story tied in a bit with The Red Queen, which I read a few years ago. I recalled some of the battles and the shifting loyalties from that title. This story began with Jacquetta getting to know Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake and another woman who was intelligent and trying to educate herself, but misunderstood. Jacquetta was a smart and resourceful woman (and VERY fertile) and she was a real asset to the Lancaster throne. I found the subplot with the queen and the Duke of Somerset quite enthralling. When the king fell ill after being shocked by what he saw, I became wrapped up in the intrigue. Would he wake, and when he did, what would happen? Did Jacquetta's intervention cause his sleep. She was so worried that she had somehow caused it. I understood the queen's loneliness as well as Jacquetta's before Richard won her heart and they married. The author did a great job with creating empathy for the characters.The best part of the book was probably the love story between Richard and his wife, Jacquetta, who married for love, but at a great risk. I enjoyed the parts of the story where she looked for him after different battles and how she waiting fitfully for his safe return. When they ran to meet each other each time it was sigh-worthy. There were good marriages even in the middle ages. The fact that they had fourteen children was proof of that. I could go on and on about this book, but bottom line is the story was so compelling and interesting that it's making my best fiction list for 2011 because it made me think and feel a connection to the characters that I won't soon forget.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely easy to read but my favorite part was the beginning, when they had Joan of Arc as prisoner. Liked it okay but did not love it!
NCRainstorm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philippa Gregory is a bestselling author in historical fiction. The Lady of the Rivers is the third book in her The Cousins' War series. However, this is the first book written by Ms. Gregory that I have ever read. Even though it's the third of a series, the novel read fine as a stand-alone.It's obvious a lot of research went into the novel, as a lot of historical facts were presented. However, the book never feels like a history textbook. Ms. Gregory manages to bring the historical characters to life, each with their own personality. Of course, the idea that Jacquetta was psychic and/or could practice magic is up to each reader to believe or not on their own.The story flowed well, but not always at a brisk pace. The plot got a bit hung up with excessive detail where no real action was going on; such as traveling here and there, and Jacquetta having yet another child. All in all, I enjoyed this book and think anyone who reads historical fiction will as well. I will be reading more of her books!
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First off, isn't that a glorious cover?I did not have the good fortune to read Ms. Gregory's The White Queen and The Red Queen which told the stories of Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort the two queens involved in "The Cousins' War" or The War of the Roses as it came down in history. The Lady of the Rivers is about Elizabeth Woodville's mother, Jacquetta.Jacquetta is a woman almost lost to history in spite of her being Henry VII's grandmother and Margaret Beaufort's devoted friend and ally. I am not going to go into her history here as the book synopsis explains it quite adequately. I will tell you that what traces of Jacquetta that could be found in the historical record are woven into a fascinating tale of young woman with a knowledge of healing and a mystical family history living in a dangerous time.Witchcraft was feared by rich and poor alike in this period of time and the hysteria that led to burning so many innocent women at the stake is only a few years away. Jacquetta has a gift with herbs and healing and she is very prescient so some think her a witch. Her supposed descent from the water goddess Melusina is well known and at times cause for suspicion.I was enchanted by this story and found Jacquetta to be a fascinating woman. In other books from this time period she has been represented as a bit of a shrew so it was nice to see her as a fully fleshed out character. Ms. Gregory is, as always, a delight to read. She has divined a life for this woman out of very little written record and a good life it is. As always, I will look forward to her next book.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philippa Gregory, the well-known Queen of historical fiction, returns with another wonderful journey into the fascinating, though at time treacherous, times of the Cousins' War. This time, Gregory takes on the fairly-unknown Jacquetta, the long-time friend of Lancaster queen Margaret of Anjou and mother of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of York king Edward, and main subject of "The White Queen."According to interviews and other conversations with Gregory I've read, her initial inspiration for the novel came during her research on Elizabeth Woodville, thus she decided to hold off on the previously planned third book, The White Princess, and make a small detour with Jacquetta's story. However, when Gregory went to research more thoroughly into Jacquetta's life, she found that virtually no research had been done, and that the only way for her to find the information she needed, was to conduct her own research into original source documents, which not only led to the creation of The Lady of the Rivers, but also to the creation of The Women of the Cousins' War, a non-fiction exploration of the three ladies Gregory has written on so far in the series.Jacquetta is quite possibly the most fascinating woman Gregory has explored thus far. Born into a well-to-do family in Luxembourg, Jacquetta grew up knowing that she was descended from the water goddess Melusina and related to much of European nobility. Married off to the Duke of Bedford, the English regent of France, Jacquetta finds a scholarly intellectual of a husband, though the two share no bonds of love. After her husband's death, Jacquetta dares to fall in love with a lowly squire, Richard Neville, and the pair marry in secret. Once the couple returns to England, Jacquetta carves out a place for herself at the court of Henry VI, and becomes a close friend to Queen of Anjou.After The White Queen, I was somewhat tired of the constant discussion of Melusina and medieval witchcraft, and was honestly not too excited to see that Gregory chose to have this same discussion again in Lady of the Rivers. Thankfully, it was not as large of a piece of the book as in White Queen, but I was still a little tired of it. Despite this, reading about Jacquetta's life felt like I was opening up a door to an unknown and unexplored life of passion, triumph, love and politics. I was particularly intrigued by the opening (though it likely never happened), when, as a young woman, Jacquetta meets Joan of Arc while visiting her uncle. Spending time with Joan had a profound impact on Jacquetta, introduced her to the horrible realities of life, and somewhat foreshadows Jacquetta's own destiny.Though it was a little sad to see Jacquetta becoming such close friends with the Lancasters, while knowing from The White Queen how she completely and somewhat shamelessly switches side later, Gregory weaves together another fascinating tale with her lovely, signature prose that's sure to please historical fiction fans.
mountie9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Good Stuff Wonderfully authentic, and obviously thoroughly researched Intriguing storyline with Jacquetta's relationship with Joan of Arc You can feel the respect and love the author has for her subject matter History really comes alive & what could have been a seriously dull story is brought alive by the authors imagination Liked the witch-craftish moments woven into the story, again livens up what could have been a dull story Author is a gifted storyteller and brings alive some fascinating characters that history has sorta just skipped over. Learned a lot about the history of the War of the Roses, which I have to be honest I knew barely anything about (I usually get hooked on all of the Henry VIII and Elizabeth I era novels) Intrigues me to do some further reading about Jacquetta's daughter Elizabeth Woodville Fabulous Bibliography for further readings Extremely helpful Family Tree and Map Would have liked more about Jacquetta's later years which Philippa alludes to in the author's note - that sounds intriguing and should have been put in and maybe skipped the dull popping out baby chaptersThe Not so Good Stuff Could have really benefited from some editing, there is a lot of repetition in terms of always having to mention the characters name and their status OK I know this is really picky but it did affect my enjoyment of the book. I know its is very authentic in terms of a women's role in society during these time, but the constant mentioning of being a proper lady and doing what one was told by a man made me want to gag Jacquetta isn't an awful likable strong character during most of the story (again very authentic, but it did irritate me) She sorta notices the poor but does nothing about it , and a bit of a doormat, which differs from the description of her for the book Certain chapters just jump through years and really could have just been left out - basically for a while she is in country side popping out babies and coming back to court once in a while -- its a wee bit dull and again, I think some better editing would have tightened up the story and made it a more interesting readFavorite Quotes/Passages"He was Edmund Beaufort's older brother, but he made a fool of himself in France and came home and died, so promptly and conveniently - just ahead of a charge of treason - that Richard says it was by his own hands and was the only good thing he ever did for his family.""A spell and a prayer and knowing your desire are all the same thing.""Elizabeth draws a circle in the air wither her forefinger, the sign for the wheel of fortune, which can throw a woman so high in the world that she can command a king, or pull her down to this: a dishonored agonizing death."Who should/shouldn't read Fans of Philippa Gregory's previous works will enjoy Anyone with an interest in the history of The Wars of the Roses3.5 Dewey's