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The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
Passion.Danger.Witchcraft . . .

The Lady of the Rivers is #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s remarkable story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

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 of 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 at 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 England 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.

A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother of the white queen.

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Philippa Gregory on THE LADY OF THE RIVERS

Philippa Gregory tells the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigates the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses, and becomes the mother of the White Queen.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Lady of the Rivers includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Phillipa Gregory. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

The life of Jacquetta is extraordinary. She is born into the St Pol family, the rulers of the Duchy of Luxembourg, and witnesses the fate of Joan of Arc while still a girl. Married as a matter of policy to the great Duke of Bedford, it is only when she is a young widow that she can begin to shape her own destiny. Though she has the Sight, at once a blessing and a burden, she still has to navigate the waters of the English court and attempt to build a stable future for her growing family in a time of great change and increasing danger. Her longed-for marriage to Richard Woodville is a deep and abiding love match but comes at a great cost, and their rise in the world is followed by yet further twists in fortune. Yet Jacquetta Woodville, Lady Rivers, is a unique and powerful character and one who manages to place her family in a key position to survive the forthcoming wars.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Jacquetta’s first main influence is her great-aunt, Jehanne
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About the Author

Philippa Gregory
Photo credit Santi U

Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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