From a young age, Jacquetta of Luxembourg has known things that other people don’t. The ability to foresee future events is a gift she doesn't understand, even though it’s an integral part of her family history. The women who came before her, descended from the river goddess Melusina, have been the keepers of the secret of their second sight for generations. Unfortunately, psychic awareness is a dangerous possession at a time when accusations of witchcraft, punished by painful, fiery deaths, abound.
"THE LADY OF THE RIVERS is a fascinating novel that reflects King Henry VI's reign as though Philippa Gregory were there herself to experience it firsthand."
When the book begins in France in 1430, Jacquetta is in the company of the captured girl leader, Joan of Arc. While Jacquetta develops a fondness for Joan, their friendship doesn't last long. In spite of Jacquetta's hopes for Joan's freedom, Joan is burned at the stake, an event that she is forced to witness.
As a notoriously beautiful young woman, it isn't long until Jacquetta captures the eye of the Duke of Bedford, one of the most powerful men in England. At 17, she becomes his bride and leaves France to begin a new life in England as part of the royal court of King Henry VI, where intrigue and treachery run rampant. While most men would have chosen Jacquetta to satisfy their baser desires, the Duke has loftier intentions. He encourages her occult skills and urges her to reveal his future military fate. Unfortunately, Jacquetta has not come into her own yet and is unable to help the Duke in the way that he desires, no matter how much he insists.
While remaining faithful to the Duke, Jacquetta cannot deny the feelings in her heart that tell her that Richard Woodville, her husband's squire and trusted companion, is the man for her. When her husband dies only two years into their marriage, Jacquetta is heartbroken at the thought of losing Richard when he plans to accept another post.
Not one to deny her feelings, Jacquetta finds a way to stay with Richard, and the two are surreptitiously married without the approval of King Henry VI. Ordered to pay a staggeringly substantial fine as a result of their disobedience, the two eventually regain the good graces of the King and return to a life at court. Unfortunately, their very closeness to royalty will ultimately lead to their downfall.
Set during the reign of the House of Lancaster and the times of the Wars of the Roses, THE LADY OF THE RIVERS is a fascinating novel that reflects King Henry VI's reign as though author Philippa Gregory were there herself to experience it firsthand. As you turn the pages of this lengthy book, I defy you to see that your heart remains untouched by the true love match of Richard, eventually to become the first Earl Rivers, and Jacquetta. In spite of your best efforts, it can't be done.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on October 20, 2011