THE LADY OF THE RIVERS by PHILIPPA GREGORY.
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan Of Arc, and sees her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft.
Married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke's squire, Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke's death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young Henry V1, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.
The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lanchester court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. The king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret, his queen, turns to untrustworthy favourites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty of the House of York.
Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a young woman for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.
....... Inner front cover.
First Sentence (Chapter 1): She sits, this odd trophy of war, as neat as an obedient child, on a small stool in the corner of her cell.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 117): The sempstress and the tailors will come at once to measure us up for our mourning clothes, the shoemaker will come to make black slippers for me. The glovemaker will produce dozens of pairs of black gloves for me to distribute to my household. They will order black cloth to swathe the way to the cathedral, and black capes for one hundred poor men who will be hired to follow the coffin.
MY THOUGHTS: The third book in the Cousin's War trilogy, the previous two being THE WHITE QUEEN and THE RED QUEEN (click on book title to see my reviews) I think this was actually my favourite.
Telling the story of Jacquetta, mother to Elizabeth, The White Queen, it does feel a bit strange going back to the story pre-Elizabeth (I don't think its too much of a spoiler to say this ends where The White Queen begins) and it could be argued that perhaps this should have been the first book in the series but this did not in any way mar my enjoyment of the book nor its readability.
The story of a much less well known historical figure, The Lady Of The Rivers mixes romance, politics, danger and, to a lesser degree, witchcraft into a wonderfully well written novel that was obviously thoroughly researched but then I expect nothing less of Philippa Gregory.
Starting in France in the year 1430 the story begins with the imprisonment and subsequent execution of Joan of Arc as witnessed by Jacquetta, a strong woman though, as was customary of the times, one very much dominated by men, politics, and religious beliefs.
Widowed at the tender age of 19, Jacquetta we learn then went on to marry a man 'for love' causing quite a scandal. A 'daughter' of Melusina and believed to have certain powers that are considered nothing short of witchcraft, she is the close friend and confident of Queen Margaret who between the two of them prove a powerful combination.
An enthralling journey well travelled by the reader, I'm sure all fans of historical fiction that is based on actual people and events will love this book.
IF PURCHASED, WHERE?: Purchased with a book voucher given as a birthday present
KEEP IT OR NOT?: What a silly question, of course I'll be keeping this.