Vaguely relating to last weeks post about Hist-Fict; this week I thought I would write a review of some Hist-Fict as I finally finished the last in the trilogy about the the War of the Roses, The Lady of the Rivers, By Philippa Gregory.
Philippa Gregory is the undisputed Queen of Hist Fict Lit. The Lady of the Rivers completed a trilogy of books looking at the cousins’ war, also known as the war of the Roses. The trilogy looks at the events that lead to the fall of the Plantagenet royal house which would in turn then herald the rise of the house and reign of the Welsh Tudors. As usual Gregory looked at the lives of three strong women who shaped events before and during the War of the Roses; looking at the lives and times of Elizabeth Woodville, in The White Queen, Margaret Beaufort in The Red Queen and lastly Jacquetta Woodville, Dower Duchess of Bedford in The Lady of The Rivers.
The Lady of the Rivers starts in 1430 as Joan of Arc is captured and Jacquetta is living with her great aunt Jehanne, who teachers her all about the Melusina water goddess to their house of Luxemburg. We travel through Jacquetta’s life as she marries her first husband the, Duke of Bedford, who uses her as a tool in his alchemy; she then marries his Squire, Richard and through her connections and position the two of them rise through the Lancashire court of Henry VI and his ambitious head strong French Queen, Margret, while also having no less than 14 children between 1437-1458. Amazingly Richard and Jacquetta only lost one child in infancy.
The royal couple are two polar opposites the King would have been more suited to life in a monastery, while the Queen should have been a male, as although she was young and with a fierce temper and unforgiving towards her sworn enemies, she was born to be a rule, she had the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England, as another strong English Female monarch, Elizabeth I once said.
When the king becomes ill, Margret is more than happy to rule England by herself but she is a woman hundreds of years ahead of her time and she is unliked by the people of London and England as well as the Lancasterian rivals; the Yorks. Between Margaret’s underhanded vengeful war tactics and Henry VI’s ill health and weak leadership of the two of them plunge the aristocracy and towns and cities of England into a civil war.
The book is well researched and plays on many of the myths and legends surrounding the characters and events that took place during the start of the War of the Roses. Of the three I would say that this is definitely the stronger of the three books and also the earliest chronologically so I am somewhat baffled why this was published last. This is a fantastic read and would definitely be one of those books that Dr David Starkey would say the history has been emasculated, sexed up and feminized. Just like the Tardis the book transports the reader back to a time in history that was bloody, when the poor were poor and when England was not safe. And it’s for these reasons I loved every page. My only question is who will be the next woman to find herself rewritten by Philippa Gregory?