Author: Philippa Gregory
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: Hardback, 439
Opening Lines: "She sits, this odd trophy of war, as neat as an obedient child, on a small stool in the corner of her cell. At her feet are the remains of her dinner on a pewter platter, laid on the straw."
"Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card and the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.
"Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke's squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke's death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.
"The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of Engliand and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty.
"Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York."
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: Wow! What else can I say? I've wanted to read Philippa Gregory for years, but never got around to picking up her books at the local bookstore or library. When I saw the book tour for this book come around, I was quick to jump at the opportunity. And, honestly, I am extremely happy that I did!
This book takes place over the years 1430 - 1464. It follows the major part of Jacquetta of Luxembourg the Dowager Duchess of Bedford and the Lady of Rivers. After living with and befriending Joan of Arc before her death at the hands of the English, the young woman is married to the widowed John Duke of Bedford. Wanting to secure the French lands for his young nephew, Henry VI the King of England, he marries Jacquetta to gain use of her talents as the descendant of Melusina. After his untimely death, the book follows Jacquetta through her secret marriage to John's squire, Richard of Woodville, and the beginning of the War of the Roses.
I read a view reviews on Goodreads that express concern over Gregory's continual use of titles. While I agree that Jacquetta and the queen might not always use titles when conversing together, I found that I appreciated the author continuing to tell the audience the titles. With several royals in England -- and France -- sharing names, I could see myself getting confused.
Since this is the first book I've read by Gregory, I don't have anything else to compare this to. That being said, I really enjoyed this book! It was extremely engaging. The passing of time did not get boggy, and I felt the pacing and flow stayed consistence through the book. Even though they were minor in comparison to Jacquetta, the over characters in the book felt as richly fleshed out as Jacquetta herself.
When I was still in school, I seriously pursued getting at grad degree in Medieval Studies. But, after reading this book, I am ashamed to say that I don't know much about the War of Roses. Considering that this was the war that put the Tudors on the throne, it is really sad that I don't know much about it. However, after reading this book, I am very interested in learning more. In addition, the previous books in this series has made their way onto my wishlist!
For: Crazy Book Tours
Tour Info: The list of tour stops