Alison Weir, our pre-eminent popular historian, has now fulfilled a life's ambition to write historical fiction. She has chosen as her subject the bravest, most sympathetic and wronged heroine of Tudor England, Lady Jane Grey.
Lady Jane Grey was born into times of extreme danger. Child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she was merely a pawn in a dynastic power game with the highest stakes, she lived a life in thrall to political machinations and lethal religious fervour.
Jane's astonishing and essentially tragic story was played out during one of the most momentous periods of English history. As a great-niece of Henry VIII, and the cousin of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, she grew up to realize that she could never throw off the chains of her destiny. Her honesty, intelligence and strength of character carry the reader through all the vicious twists of Tudor power politics, to her nine-day reign and its unbearably poignant conclusion.
Popular biographer Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine, etc.) makes her historical fiction debut with this coming-of-age novel set in the time of Henry VIII. Weir's heroine is Lady Jane Grey (1537 1554), whose ascension to the English throne was briefly and unluckily promoted by opponents of Henry's Catholic heir, Mary. As Weir tells it, Jane's parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Dorset, groom her from infancy to be the perfect consort for Henry's son, Prince Edward, entrusting their daughter to a nurse's care while they attend to affairs at court. Jane relishes lessons in music, theology, philosophy and literature, but struggles to master courtly manners as her mother demands. Not even the beheadings of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard deter parental ambition. When Edward dies, Lord and Lady Dorset maneuver the throne for their 16-year-old daughter, risking her life as well as increased violence between Protestants and Catholics. Using multiple narrators, Weir tries to weave a conspiratorial web with Jane caught at the center, but the ever-changing perspectives prove unwieldy: Jane speaking as a four-year-old with a modern historian's vocabulary, for example, just doesn't ring true. But Weir proves herself deft as ever describing Tudor food, manners, clothing, pastimes (including hunting and jousting) and marital politics.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Really good read - recommended.
Haven't read this book in years, however I can still remember how much of an impact it had on me. Weir knows how to transport you back in time...well worth the read!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I have studied the Tudors and found no discrepancies between what I learned in the fifties and this novel. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading 'a jolly good yarn' which is true to what happened as far as we can tell.