The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The book is about Jacquetta of Luxembourg (Elizabeth Woodville's Mother).
When the Book opens her family is holding Joan of Arc prisoner. Jacquetta's Great Aunt the Demoiselle of Luxembourg promises to keep Joan safe and she is allowed to spend time with the family. But after the Demoiselle dies, they turn her over to the Church and Joan is burned at the stake. Jacquetta learns early that a woman with power is in grave danger.
As a teen she is married to John of Lancaster 1st Duke of Bedford, the most powerful man in France and heir to the throne of England. He knows of her family's descent from Melusine, and is convinced that Jacquetta has "the gift". He forces her to scry for him but she is unable to translate the things she sees. When he dies, she takes his squire Richard Woodville as a lover and they return to England. They marry without the King's permission but he forgives them after heavily fining them. The Duchess of Gloucester,is accused of ill wishing the King. She flees into sanctuary but is forced to do public penance, divorce the Duke and is imprisoned for the rest of her life on the Isle of Man.
Jacquetta and Richard are sent to fetch the King's betrothed Margaret of Anjou. Henry VI is very pious and fails to consummate the marriage, in a timely manner. The King and Queen spend excesses of money on extravagances while failing to pay the troops and merchants and become very unpopular with the country side which is heavily taxed to support their life style. The Queen eventually takes Edmund Beaufort as a lover and becomes pregnant. When the King sees them in an embrace he falls asleep and refuses to wake until long after the baby is born. When he eventually awakens Richard Duke of York has been named Protector and he has no memory of what he saw before he fell asleep. Margaret urges him to regain the crown and punish the Yorks. He regains the crown but it soon becomes apparent he is merely a puppet for his wife and Edmund Beaufort. Richard of York attacks, Edmond Beaufort is killed and the King is taken into Richard's custody. The King agrees that Richard should serve as Regent and that he will be King after his death (disinheriting the Queen's son). The Queen and her son escape and go to the Tudors (the King's half brothers).
Jacquetta returns to the countryside and her children. Her eldest daughter Elizabeth is married to Sir John Grey and has two sons with him.
The Queen summons Richard, Anthony and Sir John to her army. She has brought the Welsh to terrorize the countryside and Richard Duke of York has been killed along with his son Edmond.Jacquetta and Richard believe the Yorks have been defeated. But London refuses to open it's doors to the Queen and her Army and Richard's son Edward arrives. The Londoners name Edward King and open their doors to him. A battle ensues and Sir John (Elizabeth's husband) is killed. Richard and Anthony are paroled and agree never again to raise a sword against York. They return home.
Elizabeth has been left penniless as her Mother in Law refuses to return her dowry. Elizabeth takes her sons to stand by the road, in order to ask King Edward to intercede for her when he rides by. Jacquetta adds a love potion to a drink she prepares to serve the king.
View all my reviews