"She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of letters before her eyes."
Hello everybody! I thought I'd write up a little spoiler-free review of My Lady Jane today, as I just finished reading it the other day and have lots to say about it.
First and foremost, I love the Tudor era and everything about it - which is ultimately why I decided to pick up this novel. Except this is no ordinary historical fiction. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Days' Queen. But this time around, it's far less tragic and a lot more mystical.
If you're unfamiliar with the history, here's how it goes. Jane Grey was a teenaged English noblewoman who was married to Lord Guildford Dudley. When King Edward VI fell terminally ill, he wrote into his will that succession would fall to Lady Jane and her male heirs. But when Lady Jane took to the throne, support grew in favour of Mary Tudor - a Roman Catholic - and eventually, Jane was deposed and executed for high treason. Yikes. This version of the story is a little different. In that includes humans that can turn into animals. And poisoning.
This book was wild from start to finish and I actually loved it. I thought the addition of fantasy elements, including the E∂ians (aka the animal-morphing-humans), was quite exciting and ridiculously creative. I've not been huge on fantasy novels since my early teens, but this has definitely made me reconsider the genre. My Lady Jane was an extremely amusing and cleverly-written story, with enough real details to make you forget sometimes that people in the 1500s weren't actually part-animal.
There were a lot of twists and turns to this novel so, keeping with the spoiler-free promise of this review, I won't reveal too much about the plot. But I did think it was interesting how they played out the Jane Grey vs. Mary Tudor situation. In real-life, Mary deposed of Jane and that was that. Jane's existence was a threat because she was a Protestant queen. But in the case of the novel, I found it interesting how the role of religion paralleled the storyline of E∂ians and the Verities (aka the people who remain permanently human) - the E∂ians being the Protestants and Verities being Roman Catholics. There was definitely an interesting similarity there, that I'd really encourage you to look out for if you're reading this book!
Most of all, what really drew me into this book was Lady Jane herself. I loved Jane. I thought she was such an incredible and complex character, the perfect bookish female lead. Books with a strong female lead always capture my heart and My Lady Jane was no exception. Jane showed undoubtable strength and defiance from the very start of the novel, constantly questioning decisions that she didn't agree with or proving her intelligence by her extensive knowledge of life through reading. I think her relationship with Gifford was extremely interesting also, because it forced her to come out of her world of just books and court, and apply her strength to real-life situations (i.e. the villagers early on in the novel). I was really rooting for the two lead characters and never more have I wanted a happily ever after in a novel!
After reading this, I'm sooo eager to read the follow-up book, My Plain Jane, which is a retelling of the classic Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. I think that these three women are spectacular authors and I would probably read anything that they published as a team. This is definitely the sort of young adults novel that I'd recommend to not only teens, but adults as well! Anyone can enjoy this one.
Have you read My Lady Jane? Lend me your thoughts in the comments!
Goodreads Challenge: 25 out of 50