Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory - 5 stars!

Author: Philippa Gregory

Title: The Lady of the Rivers
Series: The Cousin’s War (#3)
Release date: 15th of September 2011
Published by: Simon and Schuster UK
Reading level: FICTION – Adult: Historical, Romance,
Pages: 497 in Hardcover
Source: Early review copy received from Simon & Schuster UK for reviewing

Summary from Goodreads:

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou's close friend and a Lancaster supporter - until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.

My review:

Even though Philippa Gregory has published several books; it was the first of her books I’ve ever read. I have seen the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, but movies cannot be used to evaluate books.

I got The Lady of the Rivers from Simon and Schuster UK for review and honestly, I did not know what exactly to expect. I did some research on Philippa Gregory to find more information about her books. I haven’t read a good historical fiction for long time, so I was excited to get started. It did pay off! :)

Regarding the plot:

First of all, I am grateful that author added family trees to the beginning of the book – I used it more than once and it was very helpful to understand who is who.

I am not the right person to evaluate the historical facts here, so I am concentrating on the fiction part. The story takes us to the period of 1430 – 1464, where The War of Roses was at its highest peak. The Lady of the Rivers introduces us to one of the women who played a significant role during this period, namely Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Jacquetta is married off to Duke of Bedford, John of Lancaster.

Her life takes Jacquetta to England and after the death of her first husband and she secretly marries with simple squire Richard Woodville who has been serving Jacquetta’s first husband. Jacquetta loses a lot of her status, but the wheel of fortune takes her back to court to bring Margaret of Anjou’s to England to marry King Henry VI. Jacquetta remains in Margaret of Anjou’s friend and in her favor until Margaret needs to escape.

Basically, The Lady of the Rivers is telling the story of that time through the eyes of Jacquetta.

The history of that period is fascinating and intriguing and I think that Philippa Gregory has done an excellent work with bringing life into Jacquetta of Luxembourg and all the other persons, too.

There was a point in the book where it seemed that The Lady of the Rivers is not so much about Jaquetta, but about everybody else surrounding her: you could see the life of Margaret of Anjou’s through Jacquetta’s eyes, you could see the miserable life of Henry VI through Jacquetta’s eyes. Of course, these persons have a significant role in England’s and in Europe’s history, so it was interesting to read.

Regarding the characters:

As said, lives of many important persons in England’s history were shown through Jacquetta’s story. Jacquetta herself was quite bold woman, daring to marry below her own status and not with the man from noble family. So in that sense she had courage. At the same time she had quite strong sense of conservatism, knowing exactly when to remain in the background in the male game of politics and power. She was a survivor, she knew her place, but she also found ways to balance it with pushing through things she needed.

Margaret of Anjou’s was also interestingly told. It seems to me, that Philippa Gregory likes telling stories of strong women. Margaret was one rebellion of a woman, at least at that time period. I liked how she was written, even though I got annoyed by her. And I got annoyed by the fact that Jacquetta did everything her queen required. I guess that was again something which was typical at that time.

I also enjoyed that the book started with Joan d’Arc’s story. It hooked me from the very first page. Joan was differently described as in many other books about her.

Richard Woodville was my favorite male character of the book. He was a warrior by heart and soul. I also liked how the author described Jacquetta’s and Richard’s love story.

Magic was also important character in the book. Dealing with herbs, potions and using Tarot cards was forbidden in England at that time and the usage of it was in the background through the whole story.


The Lady of the Rivers was book filled with battles, intrigues, relationships and above all – history. It was easy to read. The story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg was well told and it kept my interest from the very beginning until the last page. I have already decided that I will read other books of Philippa Gregory.

5 Flowers!

5 stars.

Thanks goes to Simon and Schuster UK for providing me The Lady of the Rivers for reviewing!

Happy reading!


  1. this looks good. thanks for sharing :)