The Lady of the Rivers: by Philippa Gregory

‘The Lady of the Rivers’ takes place during the Wars of the Roses, also known as the Cousins’ war, when the opposing houses of York and Lancaster fought amongst themselves for the crown. This was a decent book, though fairly unremarkable. I’d call it historical fiction- lite. The main character is Jaquetta Woodville whose daughter Elizabeth was later married to young King Edward in such a scandalous way that it cleared the way later for his brother Richard the III to seize the throne.

I knew little about Jaquetta before reading this, in fact I don’t think I’d thought at all about any of (later Queen and grandmother of Henry VIII) Elizabeth’s relatives except her brother Anthony, Lord Rivers, who comes up later in history. Jaquetta was born in France and became a duchess by her first marriage to the Duke of Bedford who was the English regent in France. The story takes us from her brief early marriage to the love of her life which she gave up her title for; through many years as an intimate in the Queen’s household, and through at least eleven children, to the finale for now as Queen Margaret of Anjou is chased from England by the winning armies of York, and their new king, 19 year old Edward.

Philippa Gregory’s series beginning with ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ is what first attracted me to historical fiction quite a few years ago now, and led me down a long road filled with great writers, great historians, and fascinating tales. I’ve found my level of historical knowledge has changed quite a bit since then, so these kinds of ‘easy’ books no longer interest me quite as much. I’d say if you don’t know a lot about England and the middle ages and you like female first person point of view stories, this is probably a great beginning and a good read. If you are more advanced, and say, admit to being able to string together sequences of Kings and Queens in order, ‘The Lady of the Rivers’ feels middle-schoolish and I found the characters saying some things I just can’t let slide.

Margaret of Anjou She-wolf of France, married to a man who would have been better off as a monk and fighting for the reigns of the kingdom for her young son says, “I’ve had such adventures!” upon returning from her wild flight to Wales and then back from Scotland with her new army. I don’t think so.

On the other hand, if you aren’t as much of a snob for semantics, Gregory is definitely an engaging and capable writer. ‘Lady of the Rivers’ is the first in a series, and it was such an easy read I might read the second before deciding on continuing. Oops turns out I read the third. Oh well I already have book two, stay tuned!

I apologize for the bland reporting here, I’m tired and without coffee today!


About Deanne

I was born and raised out on the fringes of the rainy Pacific Northwest on fishing boats and cold beaches with only a dog and kittens for company, and so my love of reading and creating stories started very early. My dad would illustrate my early stories and I would listen to him ramble about European history and warfare, eagerly asking questions about Kings, Queens and our own family history. In my adult life I am wife to a brilliant and hilarious web designer and mother to two wonderfully weird children whom I am trying to pass on to my love of learning about the world. I'm an amateur genealogist, amateur photographer and amateur history major haha. I'm good at doing amateur stuff lol. During the last couple years I finally turned my life-long urge to write into a serious endeavor and finished my first novel called (for now) The Stone and the Stars, about a dying dystopian society, and one girl trying to escape it before it collapses. While I finish cleaning up the edges on my novel for the umpteenth time, and before I send it out into the world, I've lately begun a novel about utopia, this time on Earth. I'm finally living up to the nerdy book-worm title my family 'lovingly' pinned on me from the time I was small, and finally doing that one thing I feel like I was born to do. Cliche and silly? Yes!
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