Have you ever learned something about history – something that seems so ridiculous and a bit unfair that you thought “well no, that can’t possibly be right!” Well, it seems that’s what Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have done with their novel My Lady Jane.
Based – very loosely – on the true story of the reign of King Edward VI and that of his predecessor Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, they’ve created one of the most amusing bits of historical fiction (emphasis on the fiction) that I’ve read in quite a while – and that’s saying something because historical fiction is my genre of choice.
The novel begins with King Edward’s illness and the scramble behind the scenes to get the line of succession sorted out. In the novel, as in history, the 1st Duke of Suffolk is scrambling behind the scenes to consolidate power by arranging a marriage between his younger son and the King’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey.
Similarly, in the novel as in history, it becomes apparent that The Duke’s actions are more to do with self-service than loyalty to the monarchy… but things begin to take a unique and entertaining turn as the King’s illness takes hold.
For one, as it turns out, in this version of the Tudor era there is magic running amok, and certain members of the nobility and general population possess the power to transform into animals. (This fact is used to draw a comparison between the religious struggles of the time that were headlined by the Protestant Edward VI, his Catholic sister Mary (who later became Queen Mary I – Bloody Mary), devoutly Protestant Lady Jane Grey, and the Protestant Princess Elizabeth (who later became Queen Elizabeth I).
Overall, this book was lighthearted, entertaining, and interestingly historically accurate (when you consider all of the absolutely inaccurate things that made up the basis of the plot). Again – this is one of my favorite books that I’ve read in a while, and I can’t recommend it enough.