The Lady of the Rivers – Book review

Book cover courtesy of Goodreads

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. – Goodreads-

And thus begin my Project Roses where I’m going to tackle an over hundred years of wars between cousins and brothers for the throne of England. My reading order is chronological, or as best as I can make it that way and the book list I follow can be found here.

My journey of Project Roses began with Jacquetta, the Lady of the Rivers, the mother of future queen of England Elizabeth Woodville, book three from Philippa Gregory‘s The Cousin’s War series. I couldn’t hope for a better beginning than with Jacquetta, whom I affectionately call Jackie in my head. I’m glad we didn’t start the journey of a queen of England, but a powerful lady in her own right.

The story began with Jackie as a young thing, and her meeting a legendary historical character who brought a strong sense of reality but magic too at the same time: Joan of Arc. I’ve always been fascinated by her story, a story about a girl who heard the angels and the words of God and lead armies at a time when women were not even supposed to learn to read or write unless you were from a rich family. It was tragic and empowering at the same time to start with Joan. Our young Jackie learnt at a tender age that women can be powerful beyond believes too. But she also learnt what could happen to powerful women in this men’s world.

Jackie was a rare flower with awe-inspiring determination and a sense of wisdom even when she was young. I love her for her bravery and calmness, I doubt we would see a stronger woman in books to come at Project Roses. Of course Jackie was strong, she was a proud daughter of Melusina, the goddess of water. I love the way historical novels of Philippa Gregory is spiced up with tales of magic. I only wished that history lessons are always this fun to read.

It was such a delight to follow Jackie’s story. From a young girl married for power to a much older man, who luckily treated her very well. She did get to find true love. Despite a turbulent relationship full of wars and struggles, Jackie succeeded in building a large family around her and her husband. Despite the king slowly going mad, and a rebellious young queen to serve, Jackie succeeded in surviving.

As history books tell the story of men fighting wars, Philippa Gregory brought us the women’s perspective. And what a delightful, entertaining and insightful perspective that was.

Would you be as strong as Jacquetta of Luxemburg in a men’s world?


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