Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Lady of the Rivers-Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone, Oct 18 2011, $27.99
ISBN 9781416563709

In 1430 near Arras, France, in front of her great-niece fourteen year old Lady Jacquetta, Lady Jehanne asks her prisoner Joan to accept parole by reneging her vows from God and remaining at Lord Luxembourg’s Castle of Beaurevoir. Though weary that she erred in crowning the king, Joan, still a country peasant at heart refuses. Jacquetta witnesses the execution of Joan declared a witch by the Duke of Bedford.

In 1433 Jacquetta has no say as she is forced to marry recently widowed John, the English Duke Bedford Regent of France. He plans to use her powers to further his ambitions but dies before he can achieve his objective. Still a teen, Jacquetta is now a wealthy widow. The king and her family choose her next spouse, but Jacquetta refuses to obey. Instead she weds Richard Woodville. They have a happy marriage with many children as he serves King Henry VI at the royal court and she serves as the queen’s loyal confident while anticipating after Henry the Lancaster dynasty will die too.

The third Cousins' War historical thriller (see The Red Queen and The White Queen) is another interesting look at a strong woman who must conceal her fortitude in order to navigate the treacherous male waters. Lady Jacquetta is a fascinating protagonist as she learns from the execution of Joan and the marriage of the king’s mother to a Tudor that being strong but smart is an asset even in a male only world. Genre fans will appreciate Philippa Gregory’s entertaining medieval biographical fiction of an intelligent courageous woman who not only survives the War of the Roses; she observes her grandson become King of England.

Harriet Klausner

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