First I want to thank Phillipa Gregory, and this book, for reminding me why I love reading and why I especially love historical fiction. I've been having a really hard time getting into books lately. Not so with this book. I was instantly in love with the characters and completely lost in the time period.
The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins' War) is the third book in Phillipa Gregory's War of the Roses books. It focuses on Jaquetta, a young woman from the first family of Luxembourg. During her time, Luxembourg was contested land between the English and the French. Jaquetta is married off to the English duke whose duty it is to protect the land from falling into French lands. She is sucked into court politics, playing a role in the Cousins' war, and eventually becoming grandmother to "the princes in the Tower". While her role isn't talked about much in the history books, her life was central to the history of the time and of the present. The current royals are in fact her descendents.
Jaquetta's family claims to be descended from Melussina, a water-goddess. Because of this, the women in her family sometimes show a propensity for somewhat magical powers. In this time period, being anything but a quiet and demure wife is a dangerous thing for a woman. Jaquetta learns this when her family becomes the hosts for Joan of Arc. She watches as Joan is made a martyr for her thoughts and ideas. When Jaquetta is married off to the duke, she learns that he is interested in alchemy and has married her mostly for what he hopes are her magical powers.
I loved the magical element in this book. While Jaquetta tries to deny it and be a simple wife, the places she finds herself don't allow her to do so. The magic isn't crazy and over the top. It is very simple and gently done. I read some reviews that complained that the magic reduced her from a strong and powerful woman to just a woman who survives through her magic. I didn't find that to be true at all. She displayed some powers, usually only when forced. The rest of her life was driven by her own ambition and will to do what was right.
Jaquetta accomplished a lot of things in the royal court of England. While she was simply a dowager duchess, she was a close friend to Margaret of Anjou and so had a great influence. It is amazing to see how big a role she played at court considering she spent a good part of her life pregnant. She eventually had fourteen children.
While this is the third of the Cousins' War books, it can be read as a stand-alone. I have no idea what happened in White Queen, even though I read it a few years ago, and I was able to read this one just fine. If you've read the first two and didn't love them, I still think you should give this one a chance. It is a lot more character driven and fast-paced. It is a quick and easy read, with a lot of good history in it. I gave this book four stars on goodreads', so I'd definitely recommend it.
I'd recommend it so much, I want to share it. So I'm going to do a giveaway for my paperback copy. It is in almost new condition. I dog-ear books to keep my place. Horrible habit, I know, but what can ya do? So to enter, just use the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway