The Lady of the Rivers
by Philippa Gregory
In THE LADY OF THE RIVERS (On-sale October 11; A Touchstone Hardcover, 978-1-4165-6370-9; $27.99), Gregory masterfully weaves passion, adventure, and witchcraft into the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, who would survive two reigns and two wars to become the first lady at the rival courts of both Lancaster and York.
Readers first met Jacquetta in The White Queen, as mother of King Edward IV's commoner queen, Elizabeth Woodville. The Lady of the Rivers is the compelling prelude to this tale and begins with Jacquetta as a young woman of rare beauty possessing the mixed blessing of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, Lord John of Luxembourg, she meets the imprisoned Joan of Arc, who claims to see visions and speak with angels. A descendant of the water goddess Melusina, Jacquetta has also experienced visions and heard the singing of spirits. She sees herself partially reflected in the tragic young woman accused of witchcraft and, when Joan meets her horrific death, Jacquetta finally understands the full meaning of the "wheel of fortune" tarot card-and grasps the true danger of her own powers.
Jacquetta rises swiftly through marriage to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, who introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Yet the Duke shows little interest in his new bride beyond her ability to divine the future, and Jacquetta's only solace in the great household is the handsome squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when she is left a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, eventually returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his queen, Margaret of Anjou.
The Woodvilles soon occupy a privileged place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat of revolt from the people of England. When the king slips into an inexplicable sleep, the kingdom is divided into the rival camps of Margaret and her untrustworthy advisors and the followers of Richard, Duke of York, who threatens to claim the throne. Jacquetta must navigate a treacherous path along both sides of the battle lines as the safety of her family and the rule of the House of Lancaster hang in the balance.
Philippa Gregory has spent her life as an historian of women, their place in society, and their struggle for power. The Lady of the Rivers incorporates her years of research into a sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend.