- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 512 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 236mm x 42mm | 720g
- Publication date: 15 September 2011
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 184737459X
- ISBN 13: 9781847374592
- Sales rank: 38,617
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.
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Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds. Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country. A former student of Sussex university, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire. She welcomes visitors to her site www.PhilippaGregory.com
By blodeuedd 17 Sep 2011
I have been looking forward to this book ever since I heard she was writing it. Jacquetta is an interesting person to say the least. And you can say that when this book end, then book 1 actually begins, The White Queen. Since it is up to that point we hear her story.
Jacquetta married the Duke of Bedford, something that his former brother in law did not like. And they lost the support of Burgundy. In this book Gregory has the duke marrying Jacquetta because of her legacy, she is a descendant of Melusina. While in truth, who knows, he was old., she was young and pretty. That is reason enough. There she also meets Richard Woodville whom she later married without the kings blessing, and they pay for it. But when you are in love you are and I do admire Jacquetta for going against everything and everyone at a time like that.
And the story, yes we get to see England fight for France. Jacquetta get children, a lot, poor woman, she was always pregnant. Well at least they liked each other ;) And of course the fall of the Lancaster King. The king falling into his sleep, Queen Margaret trying to keep the country together and then the start of the war of the roses. I also got thinking and I do like to think that Margaret got her child by a lover. Who can tell. And of course a book like this always has me picking a side. By now I have reached the conclusion that I will always start of as a Lancastrian but when Edward comes along I am Yorkist all the way. I also find it funny that I never like Warwick, no way. I haven't liked him in any book I have read so far about this time.
Some do not like the magic in these books. But I look at it another way. I let Jacquetta think she can see the future, because back then superstition ruled. So if she thinks the saw the future it's because she thought it so. Therefore I do not mind it at all. It does not take anything from the novel. It should also be there since the talk was that she was a witch, just like many other women of power, or who was strange, alone, old, anything really.
What we got in the end is an interesting tale about a woman who risked it all and who lived through dangerous times and got to see her daughter become queen (even if we do not see it here). I am glad Gregory wrote a book about Jacquetta and I am certainly glad to have read it. It was just what I wanted and I will not get tired of The cousin's war.
A great book that I recommend to all fans of historical fiction, and to everyone because you can't go wrong with history. And it may be long, but it is good. She does make history come alive. In the end we have this fascinating tale about a strong woman in a rich setting and it is worth exploring.
By Sharon Goodwin 13 Sep 2011
On this magical fictional journey (based on fact) through history, we get to experience Jacquetta's life by her side.
Before we begin the story there are family trees (if you read my reviews you will know I love to see a family tree!) detailing the houses of York, Lancaster and Tudor in the summer of 1430.
The story begins in a cell in Castle Beaurevoir (1430) where we see Jacquetta become friends with Joan of Arc and then we journey with her through her marriage to John, the Duke of Bedford and on to her life as the wife of Richard Woodville and confidant to Queen Margaret.
As the Duke of Bedford's wife we see her welcomed in London and obeying his rules. Throughout her marriage to Richard we see her grow as a woman with much importance in her own relationship as well as that alongside Queen Margaret.
We see what happens in a man's world when a woman walks to the beat of her own drum and experience betrayal and deaths. The fear of living on the edge, not knowing who you can turn to is a page turner in itself!
History really does come to life in this book with the rival cousins at court ...with all the politics and alliances that are made and broken and the day-to-day living at court. We get a brief glimpse of how the peasants/commoners live and a chance to spend time at the edge of a battle.
I thought that Joan of Arc's demise was powerfully portrayed as seen from Jacquetta's perspective.
I really enjoyed our journey into alchemy and was heartbroken with Jacquetta when she heard the song of Melusina. This aspect of the gift she inherits, a song likened to that of the music of the spheres, is torture. Not enough time to do anything constructive but the knowledge that a family member will be leaving this earth.
Alongside the court intrigue and history, we watch Richard and Jaquetta's relationship spark and grow. In it's early days it survives the fact that she married beneath her and during the cousins differences, survives the distance separating them. Their relationship offsets the negativity that accompanies an unstable court.
I love it that this book is based on a real character from history. The author pieced together evidence of Jacquetta's life and has woven the fact into an absorbing world. There is a lot of truth in The Lady of the Rivers.
Anyone with a love of history, heroines who struggle to find their way in a man's world and find their power will enjoy this book. You won't be disappointed. I would love to see more women from history researched and brought into public awareness! We need a balanced view - not just the 'great' men that shaped the world.
'Popular historical fiction at its finest, immaculately researched and superbly told' - Kate Saunders, The Times (10 Sept 2011)