Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog Tour & Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Lady of the Rivers
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (October 18, 2011)

Source: Received from publisher via Crazy Book Tours

Book description from Amazon:
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.

I think reading the history companion book (The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother) to the series a few weeks ago before reading this book helped me to have a better appreciation for Jacquetta. Personally, it helps me to know the history behind the story when I read historical fiction. I devoured Gregory's Tudors series and that was because there is so much written about Henry VIII. After reading the companion book, I was actually very interested in reading more about Jacquetta's life because she was present throughout so many events during her time and definitely had an impact on history even though she wasn't one of the main players, but more on the sidelines.

To be honest, I was not a huge Jacquetta fan while reading The White Queen. I did not have much of a liking for all the magic and witchcraft because it added a fantastical element to the story that aren't usually present in historical fiction books. I have to say I liked that Gregory kept that part of the story to more of a minimum this go around. It was present, but not as intertwined throughout the story as much as the first one.

I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Richard. They went through so many trials and tribulations and it really deepens their relationship together for me. It helps me to understand why she was never the same without him.

Jacquetta was a lady-in-waiting for Queen Margaret of Anjou and I found that part fascinating. I was hoping that Gregory would write a book from the perspective of Margaret of Anjou (because her life was also very interesting from what I've read) and this book pretty much fulfills that desire since Jacquetta had a special friendship with her even though that changes as the king's health deteriorates.

I think this book will be well-liked by Gregory fans. Even though I think this book lacked a little depth at times (maybe because Jacquetta is very present in The White Queen or maybe because so little is written about these women), it is still very well-written and an enjoyable read. I liked that it ended right where The White Queen starts. Can't wait for the next ones, The White Princess and The Kingmaker's Daughters!

4 out of 5 stars

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