The Lady of the Rivers
The Lady of the Rivers is a 2011 historical novel by Philippa Gregory. The story is narrated by Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother of Elizabeth Woodville and covers the reign of the Lancastrian King Henry VI.
The story begins when Jacquetta is 14 and living in France. The daughter of Peter I she stays with her Aunt Jehanne when she meets Joan of Arc who is on parole in the castle. She forms a friendship with Joan and trusts her enough to tell her of her gifts that run in the family since Melusine, a water goddess, founded her house. After the death of her Aunt she witnesses John, Duke of Bedford execute Joan.
Several years later, aged 17, Jacquetta is given in marriage to the Duke of Bedford. On their wedding night he doesn't consummate the marriage telling her that he wants her remain pure in order to carry out Alchemical experiments during his pursuit of trying to turn iron into gold.
The Duke dies and leaves Jacquetta a wealthy widow aged only 20. During her marriage she fell in love with Richard Woodville, her husband's squire and the two become lovers, return to England and then marry in secret. Jacquetta is disgraced doing this and the couple are exiled from court. Jacquetta soon gives birth to their first child, Elizabeth.
Once they are forgiven and allowed back to court the pair become close companions of the young king and are sent to greet his bride Margaret d'Anjou, a kinswoman of Jacquetta's. Soon after their marriage however the royal couple become increasingly unpopular and there are several uprisings. They rely heavily on the advice of favourites and lavish wealth and titles on them, including Richard and Jacquetta. Margaret becomes frustrated with her husband and when she eventually becomes pregnant, it is strongly implied that the baby is actually Edmund's, Duke of Somerset.
After the King slips into a coma, Jacquetta is a constant companion to the pregnant Queen and remains by her side for the next few years. When the King eventually awakens, the country is plunged into civil war between Lancaster and York led by Richard of York.
Margaret becomes Queen Militant and raises armies to fight in her husband's name. She even gets an army of Scots to fight the Yorkists, which makes her even more unpopular with the people. Eventually after the battle, Margaret is forced to flee to France and Jacquetta returns to Grafton manor. Her daughter Elizabeth returns too after the death of her husband, leading the Lancastrian cavalry. The story ends with Elizabeth going to petition the new King Edward IV for the return of her lands. Jacquetta looks from the window of her house to see Elizabeth walking up with Edward, finishing where The White Queen begins.
Order within The Cousins' War series
Although the third novel to be released in the series, The Lady of the Rivers is effectively a prequel to The White Queen, and therefore comes first chronologically. As such it was not used as material for the 2013 BBC adaptation of the series.
- The Lady of the Rivers
- The White Queen
- The Red Queen
- The Kingmaker's Daughter
- The White Princess