March 16, 2013

The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory

I like most of what Gregory writes. She does a wonderful job with history and making it approachable. But sometimes her books just don't hold my interest. And this was one of those. The Lady of the Rivers is the third book in this series, but it actually comes first chronologically, which is why I chose to read it first.

Lady of the Rivers introduces us to Jacquetta, mother of Elizabeth (who would go on to be an important figure in history), and her headlong dash into the intrigue of court. Jacquetta captures the eye of a powerful man at court, the Duke of Bedford, and becomes his virgin wife, as he would rather use her innocence in the making of alchemy. But when the Duke dies, Jacquetta is left to her own devices and soon marries for love. Richard is lower born than her, but shows promise and when they regain favor with the court, Jacquetta becomes a favorite of the young Queen and must leave her children to help the Queen and King at court and become a part of the politics that surround England.

Jacquetta isn't actually that interesting. She tells everyone else's tale in this book even though she is supposed to be intriguing herself. She's supposed to have powers, but she always hides these for fear of being called a witch. Which is understandable, but in private moments this could have been used to advance her character. As it is, she follows the Queen everywhere and does things she doesn't want to, and in the meantime has lots and lots of children, whom she leaves in the care of others for most of the book. I just couldn't like her. Her husband Richard, is much more intriguing, but he is always away on some duty. And the Queen, well she's just plain annoying and spoiled. I grew weary of reading about her. And there are so many characters in this book, that it's hard to keep track of them all, especially if you're not very familiar with history.

And I'm not familiar with history. I couldn't tell you in this book was accurate in the least. I get all the Kings and Queens mixed up and never quite know who's who. Probably a weakness on my part, but I'm just not that interested in real life history, so I get my dose of it through books like this. The writing in this one was kind of choppy too. Years would pass in a couple sentences while minutes would take pages and pages of the book. It's still better written than a lot of books out there, I just didn't find myself enjoying it very much.

It's ok, as far as historical fiction goes, but Gregory's done better. I'm curious to read the next book, and it's already sitting on my shelf, so I will. But it better be much more interesting that this one to keep my attention.

The Lady of the Rivers
Copyright 2011
443 pages


  1. Sounds interesting. I've never read any of Gregory's books. Is there an order they should be read in?

  2. Hi! Yes, there is an order to the books. This is actually the third book in the series. First is the White Queen. Second is the Red Queen. They're part of the Cousin's War series.

    Thanks for stopping by!