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The Lady of the Rivers    by Philippa Gregory order for
Lady of the Rivers
by Philippa Gregory
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

Jacquetta's marriage to John, Duke of Bedford is a great alliance for the House of Luxembourg, but Jacquetta dreads wedding the much older duke who failed to make a good first impression on her. However, after their much celebrated marriage, Jacquetta learns that the duke did not marry her for her beauty nor did he have any desire to share her bed. John, Duke of Bedford, married Jacquetta for her family connection to the water goddess, Melusina. It is rumored that the women of the house of Luxembourg possess the gift of Vision. The Duke hopes Jacquetta's Vision can help him win the war against France, but after watching The Maid, Joan of Arc burn at the stake, Jacquetta fears the powers that she has yet to experience.

Jacquetta knows that the duke will never love her. His marriage to Jacquetta is simply a way to utilize her rumored gift. The duke, who dabbles in alchemy, hopes Jacquetta's powers will help him create gold which would finally put an end to the century long war with France. Although their marriage is in name only, Jacquetta feels blessed to be married to a kind man who makes no demands on her. But when the duke dies, Jacquetta fears she will be forced to wed again. Before a marriage can be arranged for Jacquetta, she secretly marries her husband's squire, Richard Woodville. Her marriage to Richard is a sincere love match, but they are continually torn apart by the never ending war with France and the war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Jacquetta finds a new friend in England's new Queen, Margaret of Anjou. Considered Margaret's dearest friend, Jacquetta knows Richard and her family are safe in the hands of the House of Lancaster. But when a mysterious illness leaves the king in a deep sleep for eighteen months, Richard Duke of York attempts to claim the throne of England. The Duke of York, however, meets his match in the she-wolf Queen Margaret who vows to destroy the duke in the name of her son. When the war between the House of Lancaster and York threaten to destroy the kingdom, Jacquetta and Richard find themselves in a perilous position. They must either continue to support their king who is no longer fit to run the country, or they must commit treason and support the Duke of York who will cast aside the rightful heir to the throne of England.

The Lady of the Rivers is Philippa Gregory's best novel since The Other Boleyn Girl. Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford is a relatively obscure figure in history, but Gregory's impressive research has placed Jacquetta in her rightful place during England's devastating War of the Roses. The mythical figure, Melusina, plays an important part in the novel, but does not distract from the political turmoil that almost destroyed a kingdom. Instead, Jacquetta is portrayed as a loving mother and devoted wife who is torn between her loyalty to her king and queen and the safety of her family. Readers will be pleased with the way Gregory blends, fact, fiction, and legend. Philippa Gregory is back! Anyone who has ever read a Gregory novel will not want to miss her latest release.

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