The Lady of the Rivers

Philippa Gregory, Author
Philippa Gregory. Touchstone, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4165-6370-9
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel (after The Red Queen), Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction. Her heroine-narrator, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who possesses second sight, is but 14 when she witnesses the execution of Joan of Arc. Joan's persecutor, the duke of Bedford, marries Jacquetta the next year in a vain attempt to access her powers, but then leaves her a wealthy widow. Defying convention, Jacquetta chooses a new husband herself: the duke's handsome young squire, Richard Woodville, with whom she has a dozen children, including Elizabeth, the future queen. Richard serves at King Henry VI's court, and Jacquetta befriends his new queen. When the king's widowed mother weds Owen Tudor, tolerance spreads for women who defy convention. As in previous works, Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history (mostly accurate) come alive for readers (mostly women) by giving credence to persistent rumors that academic historians (mostly men) have brushed aside. (Oct.)
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