Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lady of The Rivers / The Kingmaker's Daughter

I read both of these Philippa Gregory books in quick succession, so thought I would include them in the same review. They are both part of the Cousin's War series, a group of novels telling the story of the War of the Roses - the houses of York and Lancaster - with each book being narrated by a different female character.

The Lady of the Rivers is told from the viewpoint of Jacquetta Woodville, mother of Elizabeth Woodville who married Kind Edward IV. Jacquetta was the daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and was married to John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI at a young age. Although not in love, John looks after Jacquetta, in return for her scrying for him - looking to the future to predict outcomes of war. She falls in love with one of her husband's trusted men, Richard Woodville and when John dies, she takes the huge risk of marrying below her status.

Jacquetta waits upon Queen Margaret of Anjou and they soon become close friends, although Margaret's behaviour becomes more reckless as claims for the throne arise while her husband Henry VI 'sleeps' for months at a time. Jacquetta has many children over the years and her oldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville meets rival King Edward IV and he falls in love and marries her - with cries of witchcraft from certain groups.

The Kingmaker's Daughter follows Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, otherwise known as the 'kingmaker'. Anne and her sister Isabel, are used as pawns in the game to win the throne of England and it follows Anne's journey from childhood to her marriage to Edward Prince of Wales and her relationship with his mother Margaret of Anjou, to her second to marriage to Richard Duke of York, later Richard III.  As a lady in waiting to Elizabeth Woodville, her life becomes in danger and during her tragic life she loses her father, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and son to the war between the two houses.

The Cousin's War series has provided Gregory's best books, with such strong imagery and story-telling in each of these stories. With rumours of witchcraft from Jacquetta and Elizabeth with them 'blowing up storms', cursing and love spells to some truly sad and violent images. The scene of the Earl of Warwick's loyal horse Midnight being slaughtered and Isabel Neville's truly horrific childbirth at sea during a storm, will both stay with me for a long time.

Both protagonists in these books, although at the mercy of powerful men, shape history and are able to make their own choices in life. Both swap sides between York and Lancaster to save their own and their families lives and they are loyal to those they love.

I cannot recommend this books enough, along with previous novels in the series, The White Queen (Elizabeth Woodville) and The Red Queen (Margaret Beaufort) and I cannot wait to read The White Princess which is released next year. The books are also being adapted for a major BBC series which is currently being filmed. is a great website with lots of content about all of her books and research.

1 comment:

  1. excellent review hollie! I'll be adding these to my book list in future ( just bought a load of books today - i really need to read them!)
    these always enticed me in bookshops and wondered what they are like! They sound right up my street!