The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

The third book in Gregory’s Cousins War and the precursor to The White Queen (running concurrent with The Red Queen), The Lady of the Rivers is a remarkable tale of love and loyalty, of Jacquetta Woodville and her husband Richard and their attempts to protect and save the fragile, tumultuous throne of England from weakness, vengeance, and betrayal.

Born to nobility and duty, Jacquetta was married off at sixteen to the Duke of Bedford, the Protector of Calais, the King of England’s man in France. When illness took her might husband, Jacquetta married herself to Richard Woodville, his faithful squire, a marriage of love despite social inconvenience.

Born of a line that claimed the river goddess Melusina as its matriarch, Jacquetta was taught herbology, as well as divining by wise women of her family and acquaintance. Her first husband sought to use her virginity in his alchemy, her Sight in his planning. Jacquetta did indeed See, though when her fellow Duchess was arrested and tried for witchcraft, sorcery, and treason, she denies her abilities and refuses to practice them outside of her chambers.

Jacquetta takes Margaret of Anjou, become Queen of England, under her wing, doing her best to try to wrangle the passionate, opinionated Frenchwoman. And that is a task to be the making of any strong Englishwoman, as you will see.

Once again, Gregory has brought characters to vivid life and stark reality. Jacquetta and Richard are characters that you come to adore, fear for, and cheer on as they long for each other, do their duty, and raise their family.  The Lady of the Rivers ends JUST where The White Queen will pick up and that is a beautiful moment to realize.

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