Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.
This is a prequel to the Cousins War series by Philippa Gregory but I visited Gregory’s Facebook page and she suggest reading them not in the order they were published, but in chronological order, so that is what I did. This book follows Jacquetta, the mother who will eventually give birth to Elizabeth, the Queen of England.
This is the second novel I have read by Gregory and again I was not disappointed in the slightest. I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction, especially when it comes to history and the English crown. King Henry the VIII is one of my favorite things to talk about so when I found out Gregory had a series about the rulers prior to King Henry I was intrigued. I’m always itching to learn more about history and historical fiction (with usual visit to Wikipedia while I’m reading it) is my favorite way to learn. The fact that Gregory solely focuses on the women of the dynasty as the main character is just a huge added bonus. Feminism for the win!
This story follows Jacquettas entire life, up to the very moment her daughter Elizabeth meets the future King of England. There were elements of magic in this story that I deeply appreciated. I think some people might be irked by the presence of magic in a historical fiction novel but I thought it was an added bonus. It really brought the characters to life in a way that they probably wouldn’t have if there was no magic.
I think it’s important to read this book before started the other books in The Cousins War series because if I hadn’t known the back story of King Henry the VI and his Queen and their issues, I wouldn’t have been able to get into the next book. Jacquetta was very close to the Queen of England during this novel therefore we get to see the court politics, some dirty laundry, forbidden romances, and the overall decline in a Kings mental health. There is something for everyone in this novel to appreciate and I think that’s the beauty of it. Not only are you learning something, you are fully invested in these people’s lives. Overall I loved this book as well as the beautiful writing. This is a solid 5 stars from me and I’m so excited to continue onwards! After reading this book I’m obviously rooting for the Lancaster line but who knows who I will be rooting for once I finish the series. It’s almost like a real life Game of Thrones, minus some dope dragons.