Coming off of a few books with heavier themes, I decided to look for something fun and easy to read at the pool. Scanning through my kindle purchase (seriously, there are SO MANY), I came across this one, and remembered that my fellow cannonballers thought somewhat highly of it.
Now, look. I’m no historian.
But I’m pretty sure this version of the events between the death of King Henry and the coronation of Bloody Mary aren’t historically accurate.
I know a little about King Edward and Jane Grey. After watching season one of The Crown, I started reading some British royal history (written for children — I really just wanted an overview!), just so I could keep up a bit. And years ago, I saw the movie about Jane Grey starring super young and hot Helena Bonham Carter as Jane and Cary Elwes as G. That was the extent of my knowledge on Edward and Jane and the Dudleys. But nowhere have I ever read that Jane was sometimes a ferret and that G was really a horse.
This alternate version of history takes place in an England divided over magic. There are the verities (led by Edward’s half-sister, Mary), who denounce all things magical. And then there are the E∂ians…those who descend from a long line of ancient shape shifters. (Did you know that King Henry had a tendency to turn into a lion when he was annoyed?)
Young and sickly, King Edward hasn’t done much to manage this brewing war between the verities and the E∂ians. And then he receives the terrible news that he has consumption (I think) and has mere months to live.
Manipulated by his chief advisor, Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, Edward names his cousin Jane as his successor, ignoring the fact that his half-sister Mary is the rightful heir to the throne. Dudley also convinces Edward to enter Jane into marriage with his son, Gifford (you can call him G), thereby potentially creating a puppet monarchy for Lord Dudley.
Jane isn’t particularly excited about this match. She’s heard the rumors about G’s womanizing and drinking. She’d much rather stay at home with a good book.
Oh, a G turns into a horse every day at dawn, which is awkward.
The rest of the story is about Jane’s sudden ascension to the thrown, her immediate removal by Mary, and how the E∂ians work together to take back what is rightfully theirs.
So no, the book isn’t historically accurate. But I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was silly and funny and the narrator reminded me of the delightful one on Jane the Virgin. Filled with ridiculous comments and asides, as well as a bunch of Month Python references, I really got a good laugh out of this.
For example, when describing Edward’s lack of skills with the fairer sex:
He pretended to stretch his arms, in order to shift even closer to her. (This isn’t in the history books, of course, but we’d like to point out that this was the first time a young man had ever tried that particular arm-stretch move on a young woman. Edward was the inventor of the arm stretch, a tactic that teenage boys have been using for centuries.
I had never heard of any of the (three!) authors who wrote this, but I would check out other books by them. And I saw that they have a new book in the works, this one about Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte, and I’m 100% ready for that.
If you’re looking for something light and frothy and in no way historically accurate, this was a fun and quick read.
Teenaged Cary Elwes as G.