On this magical fictional journey (based on fact) through history, we get to experience Jacquetta’s life by her side.
Before we begin the story there are family trees (if you read my reviews you will know I love to see a family tree!) detailing the houses of York, Lancaster and Tudor in the summer of 1430.
The story begins in a cell in Castle Beaurevoir (1430) where we see Jacquetta become friends with Joan of Arc and then we journey with her through her marriage to John, the Duke of Bedford and on to her life as the wife of Richard Woodville and confidant to Queen Margaret.
As the Duke of Bedford’s wife we see her welcomed in London and obeying his rules. Throughout her marriage to Richard we see her grow as a woman with much importance in her own relationship as well as that alongside Queen Margaret.
We see what happens in a man’s world when a woman walks to the beat of her own drum and experience betrayal and deaths. The fear of living on the edge, not knowing who you can turn to is a page turner in itself!
History really does come to life in this book with the rival cousins at court …with all the politics and alliances that are made and broken and the day-to-day living at court. We get a brief glimpse of how the peasants/commoners live and a chance to spend time at the edge of a battle.
I thought that Joan of Arc’s demise was powerfully portrayed as seen from Jacquetta’s perspective.
I really enjoyed our journey into alchemy and was heartbroken with Jacquetta when she heard the song of Melusina. This aspect of the gift she inherits, a song likened to that of the music of the spheres, is torture. Not enough time to do anything constructive but the knowledge that a family member will be leaving this earth.
Alongside the court intrigue and history, we watch Richard and Jaquetta’s relationship spark and grow. In it’s early days it survives the fact that she married beneath her and during the cousins differences, survives the distance separating them. Their relationship offsets the negativity that accompanies an unstable court.
I love it that this book is based on a real character from history. The author pieced together evidence of Jacquetta’s life and has woven the fact into an absorbing world. There is a lot of truth in The Lady of the Rivers.
Anyone with a love of history, heroines who struggle to find their way in a man’s world and find their power will enjoy this book. You won’t be disappointed. I would love to see more women from history researched and brought into public awareness! We need a balanced view – not just the ‘great’ men that shaped the world.
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