The Lady of the Rivers ~ Philippa Gregory
Before the Tudors…
Before the Roses…
There was the river.
Philippa Gregory’s most recent novel, and chronologically earliest story in the Cousins’ War series, is the beautiful, passionate and romantic story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford. She is the Granddaughter to a river goddess and Grandmother to Europe’s most popular dynasty. She started out as royalty and married for love, causing scandal, yes, but also a fabulous story.
I put this off until the last moment and then ended up reading it past the publication date. I’d read some pretty lukewarm things about it around the blogging community and I was a bit hesitant to jump into it. Knowing the least about Jacquetta, out of all three of the women in The Cousins’ War series, I wasn’t sure what to think before I got down to it.
It turns out, all of that stress was for nothing. This was beyond my favorite of the three. I enjoyed The White Queen a great deal and liked The Red Queen for its own insanity. I loved The Lady of the Rivers, though. At this point, having read the first two in the series that pretty much run parallel to each other, I knew a lot of the storyline that was fleshed out in the book. Though the third book is a prequel, I was still familiar with the history as it’s told in the other two as backdrop.
The most wonderful thing about this story was Jacquetta, herself. Though there is a strong emphasis on the fiction part of Historical Fiction, here (we know very little about women in power roles this far back so much was guessed by Gregory) that Gregory definitely admits to, it’s still a fabulous book and is sexy and strong and just fabulously done in so many ways. Also, can we say “hot romance”? Hot romance. There you go. There’s nothing like hot, married-couple love that lasts for decades through war-torn Europe. OK, I’m a sap.
Sure it’s still chick-lit, historical fiction but it’s smart and fun and hits on a lot of points that Gregory has talked about in her non-fiction pieces. These things focus on the roles women played or didn’t play in power through history. Another strong focus for Gregory, in this area centers on when they did get to put a word or action in edgewise, not much of women’s political or social influence was recorded. All of this is touched on in The Lady of the Rivers, as well as that old time religion: witchcraft (also known as “just another way to get powerful women out of power”).
I can’t recommend this, hands down because I think I’m in the minority, here in raving about it. If it were coming just from me, alone, though I would say read this one.