BR# 12 and PS# 8 My Lady Jane

book reviews, brodi ashton, cynthia hand, edward vi, elizabeth I, fantasy, henry viii, historical fiction, jane grey, jodi meadows, mary I, my history nerdiness of full display, my lady jane, ya, YA week / Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Date started: 1/19/17                       Date finished: 1/24/17

For #12 of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge: Read a fantasy novel

For #8 of POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: Read a book with multiple authors.

There a very few times in my life, when I’m ahead of the curve. Reading this book was one of them. After I read it, I saw it on sooo many book lists. I cannot even remember how I came across the book so let’s just chalk it up to another I randomly stumbled upon it moments. It made me feel slightly special so I let my inner hipster out and gleefully spouted: “I read My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows before it was cool.”

In order to understand My Lady Jane, you need to know some background on the time period it alternates from. Sit back and enjoy some Tudor memes on the way through this post.

The Background

Once upon a time, there was an English king named Henry VIII. In his quest to have a son, he infamously married six women (the stuff of ballads, movies, and historical fiction for centuries). He did have a son, who would become Edward VI. After his death, suspicious circumstances arose where his two older sisters, the future Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I, were cut out of the line of accession. The crown, instead, went to their cousin (her grandmother was Henry VIII’s younger sister). Now the dear young Lady Jane Grey did not last long as queen. Only 9 days in fact before Queen Mary’s forces defeated her. Like any historical tragic figure, she was promptly executed.

The Plot

Now that the history part is covered, I’m sure my history teachers are patting themselves on the back right now. We move onto the novel. For the most part, the story line follows the same pattern, Henry VIII dies and his son ascends the throne. At this point is where history ends and the the alternate world of My Lady Jane begins. In this timeline, Edward does not die instead he escapes from the people who want him dead. Presumed dead, history rolls again by Jane Grey becoming Queen of England. Before history kills her, she too escapes with her husband Guildford Dudley, who in the book rather be called G. Everyone seems to conveniently escape from tricky situations. Edward, Jane, and G, over the course of the novel, do a lot of escaping from people who want them dead, getting into hijinks, grow as individuals, hang out at their great-grandmother/grandmother’s house, and discover new abilities.

Historically (I’m starting to feel like this is the word of the day), the problem in England, at the time, stems from Henry VIII’s conversion of England from a Catholic nation to a Protestant one. Instead of dealing with the complexities of religion and fights over it in England, the conflict switches to one that is more digestible and easy to understand for a teen audience and takes a fantasy approach. The new conflict is is between Eðians (those who can shape shift) and Verities (those who cannot shape shift). The religious conversion changes to when Henry VIII discovered he was a  Eðian and year is known as the Year of the Lion (can you guess what he shape shifts into?)

Thoughts on the Book

Ok, I did enjoy the fresh take on history. Reading My Lady Jane was like a blast from the past, I spent a lot of time as a teenager reading about the Tudor period, particularly after the death of Henry VIII and the rules of his children. I could not stop reading the first half of the book and adored the prose and story. Where the first half of the novel is great, the second does not live up the excellence. I’m not sure if the same author wrote different parts since this book is written by multiple authors. The second half punched me with stereotypical teen dialogue. The dialogue plus some of the scenes gave me the feeling of teenagers doing Shakespeare or a Renaissance Festival and not as if these teenagers were actually living in the time period. As a writer, you can be silly or funny and write in a more well written voice. But then again I’m an adult reading YA, really is not a valid excuse. A good book in my opinion should be able to be enjoyed by all ages. Problems aside, there is a lot of fascinating characters and ideas at work in the novel. It’s a shame “P.S. They totally consummated” ruined some of the magic of the book.

Some quick thoughts on G’s Shakespeare quoting habit

Before, I finished this post, I wanted to make a quick note of the book that I’ve noticed some reviewers seem to think as hilarious-G’s quoting habit. In the novel, G has a habit of quoting Shakespeare and saying it’s his own poetry. As an a person very familiar with academia especially Shakespearean academia, this opens up a can of worms. Maybe because of my deeply entrenched academic background, I found this quoting from Shakespeare more distracting than humorous (mostly because I was trying to remember which work the lines were from). Also, it could be even less humorous as an academic, because of the questioning of whether or not he (Shakespeare) even wrote all of his plays. There are a bunch of theories about his authorship some are really bizarre and strangely a good portion of them actually kind of make sense. Academic blasphemous in the house! If you’re interested, search it up my dears.  Adding G, openly quoting Shakespeare, almost implies that our lovely authors are quite aware of this controversy and solely chose to poke their sticks at it. However, since this book is considered YA, most teenagers would not be familiar with this issue so I don’t think this was intentionally added in to provoke those who would know this problem. In the end, you could use the old saying: “you could take the girl out of academia, but can’t take academia out of the girl.”

Just to note Guildford Dudley is not even one of the people that are usually part of these theories.

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