Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

I'm stuck in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for the next three hours, so what better to do than review a book that I absolutely loved reading!
It's pretty hard to go wrong with a novel by Alison Weir. She's a pro when it comes to anything Tudor related, not to mention her writing style is outstanding. Her descriptions allow the reader to imagine themselves right in the middle of what is going on in the story. I became completely lost (in a good way) in this novel.
Innocent Traitor was actually one of the first novels dealing with historical fiction that I had read, outside of Philippa Gregory or historical romance novels. I had no idea who Lady Jane Grey was, but I thought the book sounded good, so I ordered it. It's a book that will definitely stay in my permanent library.
Jane Grey was a young and very intelligent girl, who was related to the King of England, who at the time was Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII. There were plots to wed Edward VI to Lady Jane Grey, but Edward VI died at a young age, and Jane's ambitious family as well as Edward VI's Protestant advisors decided to push her forward onto the throne anyway (because she was somewhat in line for the crown.) The plan was to keep Mary I (Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon) off the throne. Edward had been Protestant, and on his death bed his will was changed naming Jane his successor to the throne, rather than his Catholic sister Mary I. Edward VI and his advisors strove to keep Mary I off the throne in order to keep the current religion intact.
Jane had no ambitions herself to the throne, but as a young girl she was at the mercy of her parents as well as other adults in power. Jane was forced to marry Guildford Dudley, and then forced to take the Crown of England, even though she believed that Mary I was the rightful heir to the crown, and that it was completely wrong for herself to be named Queen of England.
As I've said, I really didn't know anything about Lady Jane Grey, so I found myself rooting for her throughout the story. That said, the ending of the novel really got to me. I knew that King Henry VIII's daughter Mary became Queen, but I didn't realize under what circumstances, or the sad story of Jane until I finished the novel.
Although this novel tore at my heart strings, and bummed me out, it was still an amazing book. Jane may have only been Queen for nine days, but her story is one that will endure forever. Even though she was such a small part of history, the circumstances of her rise and fall are sad, but yet completely interesting. Anyone who is a lover of Tudor literature should definitely pick this book up.
Jane seems to be forgotten in the novel's that focus on the Tudor's, and I think it's awesome that Alison Weir chose to research and write about her life and death. There are hundreds of books about the other Tudor monarchs and also King Henry VIII's wives, but how many are there on Lady Jane Grey?
The decision that Mary I made in the end regarding Jane's life is heart wrenching (I actually teared up), and was one of the many events during Mary's reign which gave her the nickname "Bloody Mary." However, Jane alive would have continued to be used as a figurehead for people who opposed Mary I, in order to get people to rise up against Mary I's rule.
I find that I often have trouble getting into Alison Weir's novels that are strictly historical. I enjoy learning about important people in history, especially the Tudors, but I can't seem to get engrossed in her historical novels. However, her historical fiction novels are some of the best I've read, and her writing style and knowledge of the events of the time are the best out there!


  1. I really enjoyed this one as well. I thought the different narrators added a lot to the story - one of the ones I thought was the most interesting was that of the executioner. How hard that job must have been!!

  2. Hi there! Great blog. My friend, and co-blogger, Kaylee told me about you and your blog, actually we do a weekly video at A Bookish Wonderland, and you were mentioned! Please stop by and check us out!!