The third book in the series The Cousin’s War by the goddess of historical fiction, Phillipa Gregory, is just as fantastic as her other books about the women involved in this period of time.
The story follows the life of Jacquetta, the stunning daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and direct descendant of the water goddess Melusina. It begins in a cell in a castle in Luxembourg after the capture of the legendary Joan of Arc, prisoner of Jacquetta’s uncle who she soon befriends. Of course we all know how terribly Joan’s life ends and Jacquetta finds herself married off to Joan’s executor, the Duke of Bedford, a man so powerful in both England and France, he is second only to the King.
Despite being born to a life of luxury, nothing prepares her for the pomp and ceremony of the English court, not to mention being the second Lady of the kingdom, second only to the Queen mother herself. Her husband also introduces her to the world of learning and alchemy, a world that although not unfamiliar thanks to her links to Melusina, is a world that she knows to be wary of. Her only friend within her household is the Squire to the Duke of Bedford, the brave and exceptionally handsome Richard Woodville, who Jacquetta marries in secret following a tender romance after the Duke’s death. Of course a member of the Royal family marrying in secret and a commoner to boot, was unthinkable and resulted in a hefty fine for the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, but of course the young King Henry VI forgave her and her new husband and she soon became a great friend of the new Queen, Margaret of Anjou, while her husband served his King in many a position until he was made a Baron Rivers for his services to the crown.
The story follows the twists and turns of court life during the war of the roses, a series of battles that cost the country and the Royal family dear. Intertwined is the magical element that is an undercurrent throughout the whole story and makes it all the more intriguing. Jacquetta has the ability to see into the future, even if it may not make sense to her at the time and she can see battles lost and even a completely unpredictable pairing for her beautiful daughter Elizabeth (who for those of you who have read the other books in the trilogy is known by Gregory as The White Queen) as well as being able to tell when a member of her family will die, thanks to the song of Melusina, a sound which almost breaks your heart for Jacquetta when it’s heard.
It really is a magical story, literally and figuratively. The research so extensive and the characters so believable that you cannot help but read this in one or just a few sittings – no mean feat for a 500 page book. Having only previously been interested in reading about The Tudors, this particular trilogy covering the period prior to The Tudor dynasty is utterly fascinating and Gregory just gets better every time. You don’t have to have read the other stories in this series, infact you could start with any of them and they will still make sense to you. One certainly not to miss!
This is a sponsored post: I’m lucky enough to be involved in reviewing books for Simon & Schuster. I am sent books to read in return for reviewing them on my blog. To view mu full disclosure policy please click on the Disclosure tab above.