The Lady of the Rivers, Philippa Gregory

That’s right. My second Bookstravaganza read is romantic historical fiction. Who needs intellectual things, Dorothy?

I’ve read tons of Philippa Gregory, actually. Guilty pleasure. Her books are really fun to race through, and I think there are some things she does really well (editing isn’t one of them). They start blurring quite quickly when I think back; they’re entertaining, and sometimes even educational, but they don’t tread new ground.

The Lady of the Rivers, despite being set right in the lead-up to the Wars of the Roses, is actually the most pleasant thing she’s written that I’ve read. Jacquetta, the narrator, is married first to the Duke of Bedford, who dies right away, so then she can marry his squire, Richard Woodville – the love of her life. And they have, like, a million kids, and are really in love. And really loyal. And super in love, by the way. Oh, and Jacquetta is famously beautiful. And she’s descended from Melusina (one of my favourite myths, but really out of place here), so naturally she can see the future. And her daughter goes on to be Queen of England.

What I’ve really loved about Gregory’s books before is the sense of foreboding she can create. This one was fun, but the conflict seemed to all be just out of reach – or resolved before it had a chance to blossom. It started with Joan of Arc being burned, and a couple words about women being punished for not conforming to a world of men, but that opening felt divorced from the rest of the book. I didn’t at any point worry about any of the characters, and I definitely don’t feel that I have a better understanding of this period in history (apparently Jacquetta is quite overlooked in research and writing). However, I also haven’t read the other two books in the Cousins’ War series – Google tells me they exist. Maybe they’re better.

Current Total: 2


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