Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review: The Lady of the Rivers, by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.

This is the first Philippa Gregory book that I have read in years, and I have to say I am a little bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the book wasn't terrible, but I am still disappointed.
The Lady of the Rivers has been sitting on my book case for over a year, and after watching The White Queen on the BBC (their adaptation of the Cousins' War Series), I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

The story follows Jacquetta of Luxembourg, a girl who lived through spectacular events, and witnessed many of them first hand. These events being war, the trial of Joan of Arc, international travel, the reigns and deaths of several Kings, both English and French, a strange marriage, followed by a more regular marriage, and a secretive plan for her witchcraft to be honed and twinned with alchemy, for the benefit of France. The book covers her life from her early teen years right up until her daughter meets the King of England; it felt as if Jacquetta definitely had a story of her own, but that she was used more as an introduction to her daughter's book, which had been written and published before this one. Indeed, as we get closer to the end of the book, the book becomes more Jacquetta narrating her daughters life, rather than merely it being about herself. Whilst this could have been good, I felt it was handled poorly, skipping huge chunks of her life.
By covering such a long time frame, it felt in many places as if the events were being rushed, whilst in other parts, the story dragged on.

Jacquetta is in many ways propelled by the events around her, and a sort of destiny divined from the magic she has. I wanted her to take more control, although obviously she was a woman of her time, despite her proclamations otherwise. And obviously, basing a book upon a real person has its limitations.

I suppose for people who want to read the rest of the Cousins's War series, this book is a great prequel, but on its own, it was definitely lacking, and not Philippa Gregory's best work by far.

1 comment:

Free ice cream and beer for all who comment! Ok, that's a promise I can't keep. Maybe a hug if we ever meet in the real world... or just leave your twitter handle and I'll send you a virtual one? Maybe.
Anyway, I'm grateful that you took the time to comment. You are indeed mighty witty.