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Book review: ‘The Lady of the Rivers’

philippa gregory - the lady of the rivers 10-6-13Yet again, Philippa Gregory brings history alive. Her story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, from her first encounter with Joan of Arc, kept me riveted. She is so attuned to the period and the language that her writing is seamless. At no point does the research show itself. And there is a lot of research, Gregory herself admits she does four months of solid research before starting to write. She also says that she often finds the idea for a different novel when she is researching another.

It may seem to the outsider that Gregory re-invents the same story – ‘what another Tudor woman?’ But this could not be further from the truth. Witchcraft is an intriguing story thread throughout this book, something introduced in The White Queen about Jacquetta’s daughter Elizabeth Woodville. Women are obliged to hide their knowledge and skills in order to survive, knowledge that today we would think of as alternative medicine and gardening by the phases of the moon. My knowledge of the period, the Wars of the Roses, the various kings and factions, is definitely improving though I was concerned that the reverse-telling of the Cousins’ War series would eliminate some of the tension. After all we know the fate of many of the characters, but her plotting and the scheming of the characters kept me reading.

I do think, though, that the titles and cover design is getting a little repetitive and lends confusion. I have been given duplicate copies as gifts, because of confusion between The Red Queen and The White Queen.
‘The Lady of the Rivers’ by Philippa Gregory