Saturday, February 6, 2010

Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir

innocent traitor
alison weir
c. 2007
400 pages
completed 2/5/2010

read for: tbr challenge, year of the historical challenge, reading western europe challenge

*may contain spoilers*

Lady Jane Grey came into this world a disappointment. Born to parents longing for a son, Jane was begrudged her existence from day one. Her only joy came from her studies. Jane was extremely intelligent and, with guidance from her tutors, became one of her times great Protestant thinkers, corresponding with leading theologians. After years of abuse and neglect from her parents, they finally began to notice her, but not for her intelligence and devotion to her religion. Instead, they saw her as a pawn to gaining power. With the death of Protestant King Edward VI becoming more and more inevitable, leading council members looked for any way to keep devoutly Catholic Mary from inheriting the throne. Their plan was to disinherit Mary and her sister Elizabeth, and set Edward's cousin on the throne. But that poor cousin, in the form of Lady Jane, knew the rightful heir to be Mary.

Wow, okay I don't know what is going on with my synopsis of this book. I tried but there is just no fixing it. So my apologies to anybody who speaks the English language for what I have done to it.

My poor description aside, this book was incredible. I was riveted pretty much from page one. I knew the basic outline of the plot just from being aware of Tudor history, but there was so much detail into Jane's life and what went into making her who she was that the story seemed completely new to me. I felt the author did a wonderful job bringing Jane to life, making her sympathetic and likable, and not just a gutless, thoughtless political pawn. Yes, she was overpowered by those around her, but she was sad and strong, and I cheered during the times she was able to stand up for herself. Even in her death she was so brave. I will totally admit to being in tears for probably the last thirty pages of the book.

My sister, the English scholar, is reading the book now and she has complained about the prose style, how she feels it to be a bit clunky, but I never noticed that. I thought all the description to be relevant and never over bearing. There were scenes with horrific detail, such as the scene where Jane witnesses the burning of two heretics or where Jane is blooded for the first time with her parents, that were just enough to make the reader uncomfortable and horrified, but not too much to become sensational and gratuitous.

I only had one complaint through the whole book and that came at the very end. While I really enjoyed the changing narrative, going from Jane's point of view, to her mother's, to her nurses, to Northumberland, and more, I found the executioner's voice at the end to be a little jarring at first. As he continued to speak he seemed to mesh a little more, but up until that moment the action was so tense and then his voice was so easy going. While I imagine he was a good choice so we could end on such a poignant yet horrific last line, I felt maybe there could have been another choice. Perhaps someone else who had witnessed the execution such as the Catholic priest she befriended in her last days or maybe her jailer. They could have closed the narrative with more emotion and heartbreak at Jane's execution and still witness the executioner's last line. But that's just me. Some people probably felt the executioner was the perfect voice with which to end. To each their own I suppose.


1 comment:

Lezlie said...

I also really enjoyed this book. I liked the executioner's voice at the end, but I can see where a person would have preferred a different point of view.