My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Lady of the Rivers is the third novel in The Cousins' War series by Philippa Gregory, and is based around the life of Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and mother to Elizabeth Woodville, future wife and queen to King Edward IV.
The Cousins' War refers to the Wars of the Roses, the battles that took place between the houses of Lancaster and York in their fight for the English throne during the latter half of the 15th century. In The Lady of the Rivers, however, the story begins much earlier, on mainland Europe, where a young Jacquetta befriends the saintly Joan of Arc. As the two girls play at a game of Tarot, Jacquetta has her first glimpse of what can happen to magical women who seek power.
You see, Jacquetta has the power to see into the future, an ability inherited from the goddess Melusina, her ancestor. However, Jacquetta is reluctant to use this power for fear of being branded a witch and the consequences that would follow such an accusation. Her first husband, the Duke of Bedford, marries her so that he can utilise her ability, and introduces a young and innocent Jacquetta to the mysteries of alchemy. For Jacquetta it is a lonely marriage, but in her husband's squire, Richard Woodville, she finds her soulmate. After the Duke's death, Jacquetta refuses to conform to custom and marries Richard in secret, which sees them banished from Court and sent to live a life of solitude in the English countryside.
That is until Margaret of Anjou arrives from France to marry King Henry VI. Jacquetta is Margaret's kinswoman, and the nervous new queen, disliked on account of being French, sends for Jacquetta to return to Court. Jacquetta and her husband, Richard, go on to become Lady and Lord Rivers, and diligently serve the English king and his queen in their Lancastrian rule.
However, England is thrown into turmoil when Henry's mental health fails and the Wars of the Roses ensues. Margaret is forced to fight to keep her husband on the throne and her (illegitimate?) son's claim to it alive. Jacquetta and Richard are loyal to their Lancastrian king and queen until fate sends the clear message that through their daughter, Elizabeth, the House of York is destined to be their future.
One of my favourite reads for 2011, The Lady of the Rivers is a wonderfully gripping tale of magic, romance, mystery, murder and war, and demonstrates how quickly those in power can fall. This novel compliments The White Queen perfectly, where Jacquetta hands the power to her daughter, Elizabeth, whose story also goes on to make history.
Since I held giveaways for books one and two, I have decided to do the same for The Lady of the Rivers.
All you have to do to enter the draw is to leave a comment on this post. Entries will be taken until midnight (Australian Central Standard Time) on Friday, 10 February 2012. The winner will be announced sometime over that weekend (11 - 12 February).
Giveaway is open to everyone, on the condition that the Book Depository ships free to your country.
The winner will receive this paperback copy of The Lady of the Rivers.
Best of luck!