Now and then, I'll be posting reviews of books I really enjoyed. One of those books is Alison Weir's INNOCENT TRAITOR.
The story of Lady Jane Grey, the tragic Nine Days Queen, is well known to most people familiar with the Tudor period. Nevertheless, she exerts a powerful attraction because she was kin to Henry VIII's children and became a pawn through no fault of her own, coming to the fore during a crisis in the Tudor succession following the death of Edward VI. "Innocent Traitor" - acclaimed historian Alison Weir's entry into the historical fiction arena - brings Jane Grey to life in a unique and vibrant way. Through a medley of voices, including Jane's own, that of her mother Eleanor of Suffolk, her devoted nursemaid, and even Jane's royal cousin Mary Tudor, we experience the maneuverings and intrigues of life at court through various perspectives and opinions. We also come to know Jane as an emotionally abused child of gifted intelligence; as a young woman of staunch faith and honor; and as a reluctant queen whose pure reformist vision cannot overcome the depredations of her father-in-law and his ruthless associates. Helpless to stem the forces moving against her, Jane records her fate with stoic dignity and a keen eye. It's to be expected that any book by Ms. Weir will be full of intimate details about life in the era; nevertheless, she does not overwhelm the narrative but rather expertly seasons it with facts that display her painstaking commitment to authenticity. In addition, she imbues even such unpleasant characters as Jane's parents with foibles and vulnerabilities of their own, giving them flesh-and-blood dimension. Jane's mother in particular dominates with her leonine pride in her royal blood, her rapacious ambition and her lusty marriage to a man who is her intellectual inferior. A true survivor of her time, she does not concede defeat, bending to obstacles when she cannot mold them to her will. Readers of historical fiction should not miss this compelling debut by one of England's foremost authorities on the Tudors - a tale of grandeur, betrayal and innocence, framed by one woman's journey from throne to scaffold.