If there is one thing about me, it is a deep passion for anything that has to do with England, specifically Tudor England. Why? I really don’t know. It may have started when I went to London when I was in 4th grade with my parents and saw the Tower of London and just continued on from there. I actually did a biography report on Anne Boleyn when I was in 8th grade (that’s how much of a dork for this era). Yes, I love The Tudors. Yes, I know that they took some definite liberties. Henry VIII was definitely not a sexy sexy man in the 1540s.
This book intrigued me because although it is the story of Lady Jane Grey, the 9 days queen, it is told through the eyes of her mother, Lady Frances Grey, and her mother-in-law, Lady Jane Dudley. It took everything we were supposedly taught about how the power players were at the time. John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, not being portrayed as a power hungry man. Frances Grey being portrayed as a woman didn’t abuse her daughter and just felt really misunderstood by both her husband and her brilliant beyond her years daughter. Jane Grey being portrayed as, frankly, kind of a PITA and a diva. Definitely didn’t see that one coming from past portrayals that paint her as a victim. It was an intriguing read and one that I enjoyed. This was the first of Susan Higginbotham’s books that I have read and it was very well researched. She had a lengthy afterward where she explained her research and why she chose to go against the traditional portrayals – and it is the nontraditional that go more towards the truth. Of course, the traditional portrayals add drama and help to make Jane Grey seem like more of a victim. I am not saying that she wasn’t – she was definitely a pawn in a power play to make it so Mary I didn’t become queen – but she was incredibly outspoken. In real life, she probably was hit a couple of times because she struggled with hiding her true feelings about stuff and did mouth off to elders. Children are not expected to do that now, and certainly were not then. It is refreshing though to see a mother who cared about her daughter and was visibly upset when she was condemned to death rather than the cold mother who was unapproachable. Instead, she was unapproachable because they just didn’t understand one another (which really isn’t that against the norm in most teenage daughter-mother relationships).
Would I recommend this? Certainly, but probably only if you have an appreciation for Tudor England or else you will be really lost reading this.