Friday, July 24, 2015

(Review) The Lady of The Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Publication Date: October 18, 2011.
Publisher: A Touchstone Book/Simon and Schuster
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 443.
Source: self-purchased.
Rating: 2 1/2 to 3 stars. Somewhere in the rating land of okay to good.

The Cousin's War is a series of 6 books:
Book One---The White Queen
Book Two---The Red Queen
Book Three---The Lady of the Rivers
Book Four---The Kingmaker's Daughter
Book Five---The White Princess
Book Six---The King's Curse

I've read The Kingmaker's Daughter and The Red Queen. I gave 5 stars to The Kingmaker's Daughter and 4 stars to The Red Queen. I did not like The Lady of The Rivers as much. I vacillated between 2 and 3 stars. What pushed the score to 3, is I loved the portrayal of admiration, partnership, respect, and love between Jacquetta and her husband Richard Woodville.

Links for more information:
Jacquetta of Luxembourg, from Philippa Gregory's webpage.
Jacquetta of Luxembourg, from Susan Higginbotham's webpage.  
Richard Woodville, Britannica. 

Review:
The Lady of the Rivers begins with Jacquetta as a friend and confidante to Joan of Arc. It's historically known that Jacquetta's uncle held Joan of Arc and later sold her to the English. A new tale is weaved with the two young women (adolescents) having a friendship.
A main theme running through The Lady of the Rivers, is Jacquetta's use of alchemy, incantations, spells, and charms to control her life and her family's destiny. Jacquetta is a resourceful and calculating person. She is not a character presented as devious or cruel, but she certainly uses her "charms" to control destiny.
Jacquetta married twice. Her second marriage was to Richard Woodville. Their marriage began with love and they produced fourteen children.
I felt the relationship between Richard and Jacquetta was one of the best parts of this story. So often in stories I've read of this period in history, the married couples do not love each other. Most marriages were arranged. These marriages remind me of business transactions. They were for money, power, heritage, lineage, and to bring future generations into the dynasty.
What I did not like about the story is the atmosphere of a soap opera. As if the historical characters needed more drama than they already had, their lives were not lively or bawdy enough. For example, the story of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. Their story is spiced up a bit, because added information is given that is not historically proven, it is speculation.
Historical fiction is often downplayed and picked apart for accuracy. I'm not a reviewer that is a staunch supporter for perfection in historical fiction. However, it does get on my nerve when I feel a book is overtly dramatized. I've never been a person who likes people in the real world, or in the fictional world as being melodramatic.

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