Saturday, October 22, 2011
REVIEW: Lady of the Rivers (Cousins War #3) by Philippa Gregory
My Thoughts: Usually when I am reading a Philippa Gregory novel (and this is my 12th so I am obviously a fan) I prefer the historical to the more fantastical elements she incorporates into her books. Even though she tweaks history to serve the story in a lot of her novels I have still always enjoyed her spin on historical events. In this one I actually really enjoyed the parts that dealt with her friendship with Joan of Arc and her abilities with the sight inherited from her ties with Melusine. I think this whole aspect actually saved the book for me. Jacquetta is a person that you don't hear a lot about in history, mainly because not much in the way of historical records exists about her. She has the potential to be such an interesting character because the lack of information on her leaves an awful lot of leeway. The problem I encountered in Lady of the Rivers was that instead of taking this woman and realizing that potential, this Jacquetta is not really her own woman and is completely defined by her relation to others in the book. The only excitement to be had here is 1) her relationship with Richard Woodville and 2) her friendship with Margaret of Anjou whose fiery personality as opposed to Jacquetta's more tranquil one allows her to completely steal Jacquetta's thunder. I was actually more interested in the doings of impulsive, ambitious Margaret and her dangerous liaison with the Duke of Somerset than I was with what was going on with Jacquetta. One thing I will give Gregory props for here is her Margaret actually had a heart (however misguided it was) as opposed to other portrayals of her as some sort of cold calculating devil queen.
I also think the history was hampered by being confined to Jacquetta's viewpoint although I liked the few battles that she was present at and actually able to describe (as opposed to the others we are told about). There was a lot of "and then I got knocked up again" or "and then Richard was sent off ___ again" instead of actually being in the action. I don't know what it is exactly, but with the Cousins War books I just don't feel as engaged by the story as I did by her Tudor related novels or even her Wideacre trilogy. This one was just ok for me. I am bumping this one from a 2.5 to a 3 because I liked the Joan/Melusine elements.