Who isn't a student of history? Some may not claim to be, but by living it every day, we truly are students of history. We live it, we breathe it. History happens all the time. Turn on the tv, or the computer, and you'll see history happen.
But there are those of us who tend to linger on past events. We eagerly read about World War II, or ancient Rome/Greece/Egypt. We read about the Civil War, and participate in battle reenactments.
And then there are those who much prefer to sit back with a historical novel. I happen to be one of them, and if the era is well-researched, it spurs me on to read even more books about that particular point in history. Case in point: 'I, Claudius' and 'Claudius the God', by Robert Graves. The series propelled me into reading books written by Suetonius, and Cato the Elder, and Cicero.
And now another gem arrives, prompting me to dig even further into English history.
'The Lady of the Rivers', by Philippa Gregory, takes place right before the beginning of the War of the Roses, the time in English history when two rival clans of the royal House of Plantagenet (Lancasters and Yorks) declared civil war in order to win the throne.
The story opens with the house arrest of Joan of Arc, and a young female member of the household, Jacquetta, senses a mysterious magical kinship with the prisoner. After Joan's death, Jacquetta soon marries a kinsman much older than her, and he uses her sixth sense to uncover future events. But after his death, the duke's squire, Richard Woodville, declares his love and he and Jacquetta are married in secret. Although they are afraid that they will be exiled from court when their marriage is discovered, they are invited back and become close friends to the new king, Henry VI, and his queen, Margaret. But soon, rivals try to claim the crown, and the discontent of the English people threaten to destroy Henry's kingdom.
'The Lady of the Rivers' is well-researched and intelligently told.
(Due to be released in early October 2011)