Only two month ago I posted a review of The Women of the Cousins’ War, the nonfiction book Philippa Gregory shared with historians David Baldwin and Michael Jones. Now she releases a novel based on the life of Jacquetta, one of the women featured there.
The Lady of the Rivers has many teen elements, from the author herself to story elements of witchcraft, romance and court intrigue, even Jacquetta’s connection to Joan of Arc. Given that this is the first in a new series from Gregory, it makes for a nice entry point for new readers, too.
Adult/High School–Teen fans of historical fiction absolutely must have a Philippa Gregory book in their repertoire. In this title, the author of The Other Boleyn Girl (Touchstone, 2004) brings to light yet another woman unknown to most readers but whose very presence helps to set in motion events that impact history. As the latest in a long line of women with “the sight,” Jacquetta attracts the attention of the Duke of Bedford who marries her so that he can use her skill to help him reach the alchemist’s dream of turning iron into gold. This doesn’t happen of course, and after his death, Jacquetta, now Duchess of Bedford marries beneath her station for love. Richard Woodville is a faithful husband as well as a loyal subject of the insane King Henry VI. As lady-in-waiting to Queen Margaret (known to her subjects and history as a “she-wolf”) Jacquetta is at the front and center of what will later be known as the “Wars of the Roses.” Passion, adventure, and a touch of witchcraft keep readers on edge as court intrigue shifts and changes with the unpredictability of King Henry’s madness. As the first in an expected series, this title will make teens want to continue reading to find out what happens to the next generation. Recommend Gregory’s recent nonfiction effort The Women of the Cousins’ War (Touchstone, 2011) to those who are curious about the history.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA