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I have a problem with authors thinking that they have to reach a larger mass audience once they are popular. It is comparable to a musician who “sells out”. The Lady of the Rivers certainly portrayed a dummied down storyline which started with the immediate opener. Perhaps Gregory is so popular now, that she took away much of the magic so evident in some of her earlier works to reach a wider audience. The theme of my complaints against The Lady of the Rivers is the lack of depth. Admittedly, this novel is a fast page-turner but solely because it is easy to read and has very short chapters (several were only one page); and not because it is overly intriguing or capturing. The book is rather slow in the beginning (even by page 109, I was bored) and it was obvious that this is because Gregory didn’t have much research to include. Is it a coincidence that the latter part of the book is more interesting and not as sparse when describing the battles? Not at all. Sadly, even the events which were described appeared glossed over which relates back to the lack of depth element. Although Jacquetta is the main character, her character development is extremely weak, to say the least. Her inner feelings and actions never felt fully disclosed and understood, making her seem very one-dimensional. Moreover, many of the other female characters also felt very demeaned and ill-described. Joan of Arc was portrayed quite foolishly and Margaret of Anjou was even more annoying than usual. Margaret of Anjou is already “known” as being villainous but at least she has drama and depth. In The Lady of the Rivers, she just comes off as a spoiled teenager in a teen film. Plus, more of the book was about Margaret of Anjou than Jacquetta. I found this all to be disappointing because none of the characters were likable or encouraged support. Imagine a star-studded ensemble cast in a movie but with a terrible plot and poor acting. That is the best way to describe this book. Sadly, even the proposed highlights were unsatisfying. Moments in the plot which were meant to be “strong” such as Richard Woodville declaring his love to Jacquetta; were elementary, rushed, and so predictable that I actually rolled my eyes. The inescapability caused the story to be very difficult to “get into”. I have to admit, there were SOME strong points throughout but I have to judge the novel on the whole, and overall, the momentous events covered (Hundred Years War, Wars of the Roses) were barely even scraped in potential by Gregory. The Lady of the Rivers is more of a summary of these events or YA novel. Some contradictory points were also evident. For example: the novel stressed that the Earl of Suffolk opposed Margaret’s marriage to Henry but then about a page later said that he predicted its success. Um… sure. I also have to ask, did they actually say “hi” during this time period? Jacquetta surely did in this novel. I may not be a linguistic expert but never, ever, have I come across the word “hi” in any other Plantagenet or Tudor novel and I have read countless sources. This bothered me. Also, the churching ceremony appeared to be described in the manner of the rules set forth by Margaret Beaufort which she obviously didn’t do yet at the time of this novel. Let’s not even get into the complaint which is evident by all readers across the board: the overuse of the titles (ie. “My lord, the Duke of Bedford”).The end of the book was the best, similarly to how the Battle of Bosworth scene at the end of The Red Queen was surely the highlight and climax. It also set the lead-in to The White Queen quite seamlessly, especially if one would want to re-read it after The Lady of the Rivers. I will give Gregory credit where credit is due that she attempted to cover a person who doesn’t have a million biographies or sources available on her. Jacquetta is a lesser known individual and I support bringing the “underdogs” to the table. I admit that I may be a little harsh and that I shouldn’t expect a thorough novel when such little information is available. However, Gregory should have instead transversed this as a novel about Margaret of Anjou, then. I do support the effort, however. Overall, not AS terrible as I suspected but definitely a dummied down version. Either Gregory is losing her spark or I’m just slipping out of the target market.
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