Author: Susan Higginbotham
Series: Stand Alone
Published: June 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Description: As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI. For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England. Then the young king falls deathly ill. Determined to keep England under Protestant rule, he concocts an audacious scheme that subverts his own father’s will. Suddenly, Jane Dudley and Frances Grey are reluctantly bound together in a common cause—one that will test their loyalties, their strength, and their faith, and that will change their lives beyond measure.
I Give This ...
Despite this time period being one of my favorites, I'm seriously lacking in my knowledge (and reading) about Edward VI and especially Lady Jane. This sounded interesting and I hoped that it would provide me with some information I was lacking.
I think if I want to get a clearer picture of Edward VI, I will need to read something else. I didn't feel like we got to know him very well. Maybe that's because most of this book takes places when he is a child. The kingdom is ruled in his name through the Protector. There's a lot of confusing details about the King's favorite uncle trying to oust the Protector, thus loosing his head. Then the people surrounding the King feel the Protector is abusing his power. He lost his head too. I know this was all important, but I was bored. All it did was show me how little power the king had (because he was a child) and how much of laid in the hands of the nobility. And, it didn't take much for those to turn on you.
I found it intriguing that Henry VIII's will gave such a clear line of succession, and that he bypassed his niece in favor of her children (I'm sure he was hoping for a male somewhere in there). I also found it hard to believe that a king who seemed to have so little sway and knew his father's demands was so determined for Lady Jane to take over the thrown. He had to know this was a bad idea right? Did he think his sister Mary was just going to sit by when her father was so clear in her right to rule? And did her really think Lady Jane would make a good Queen? She had never been raised as such. I think there's a whole lot to this story the book isn't telling us.
Which bring us to Lady Jane herself. I half wish the book would have be at least partially told from her point of view. The view points we do get do absolutely nothing for her. I didn't like her. She's that person who now days we would call "book smart" but she lacks any common sense. Plus, she seemed to have very little human compassion. A person like that shouldn't rule, and I think King Edward could have figured that out very easily. I also disliked that the minute they named her Queen, she got this sense of entitlement. I was sad to see that she was finally beheaded after so long of time. I don't think she deserved to die, although I do understand why Queen Mary felt like she had to do it.
For all of that, you would think I disliked the book. That's not entirely the case. It filled in the gaps that I have between Monarchs. I think it shows the state of the country and how it might have been effected when Mary came in the crown. It also reminded me how easily people lost their heads in this day. Plus, it's historical fiction and I'm not disappointed that I read it.