emmalita’s review of this novel intrigued me, and given my interest in certain periods of English history, I was curious to see how an alternate history of Jane Grey would work. Lady Jane Grey is one of those historical figures I have honestly not done that much reading on. She held the title of queen for nine days after the death of her Protestant cousin King Edward, and always felt more like a pawn trapped in historical circumstances. Her cousin knew he was dying, and did not want to see his throne go to his Catholic sister Mary, knowing she would reverse his religious decrees. Given the awkwardness of Henry VIII’s marriages and his various annulments, Mary and Elizabeth both had somewhat questionable legitimacy issues, which is how Lady Jane Grey, as a legitimate cousin, could even be a part of the succession discussion. Mary is one of those historical figures it is easy to pity given how much her world changed when her father set aside her mother, and Henry’s attempt to make her choose between him, her mother and her religion. However, Mary’s later stubbornness and intolerance make her hard to sympathize with, even if it is easy to feel sorry for her circumstances as a teen girl and young woman, and later as an abandoned, childless wife.
While I was a bit skeptical about how this story would develop, the authors absolutely make this work, and create both sympathetic characters and hilarious scenes. It helps that they do not even pretend at historical accuracy from the very beginning, using something very different from religion as a metaphor for the Catholic/Protestant divide to serve as the political motivation. Still, the first half of the novel mostly parallels with historical events as known before throwing history out the window in the second half.
This novel was such a delight, and coming in with very little previous knowledge of how they would adapt events made me enjoy it even more. I’m glad that emmalita’s review communicated her joy with this book without giving away too many of the details, and a result, I am following her lead and staying vague about the rest of the novel.