My Lady Jane (Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodie Ashton & Jodi Meadows
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I had heard a lot of people raving about the Lady Janies series by Cynthia Hand, Brodie Ashton and Jodi Meadows and because of my love for the Tudor era and the fact that in my teens I fell in love with the movie Lady Jane starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes I knew I had to read this book.
Touted as a historical fiction novel with a twist I wasn't quite sure how I was going to get on with this book telling the story of Lady Jane Grey who upon the death of King Edward, son of Henry VIII finds herself on the throne where she reigns for nine days before being ousted by Queen Mary Tudor who has her executed for treason. I had always loved the story as I'd seen it painted as a love story between a young bookish and innocent Jane Grey who is married off to the wild son of Lord Dudley the right hand of the King and despite not knowing each other they fall in love through the circumstances in which they find themselves and their desire to make England a better place. The tragedy in their story has always been that as their love grows and they find themselves trying to be just rulers they are torn apart as they face execution.
When I started this book I immediately had an issue with it. I don't think that Young Adult genre means you need to mollycoddle or dumb down your subject matter for your readers. Therefore I was disappointed that instead of calling a spade a spade and talking about the huge unrest between Catholics and Protestants at the time of the novel we instead are offered an alternative history where it's between Verity's (Catholic's) and Edian's (Protestants). Edian's are a human who can transform into an animal form. Jane's husband Gifford is an Edian and tranforms each day into a horse in the novel. I found this whole plotline a distraction, it drew away from the actual historical story that was trying to be told and instead made it seem, for me, overly fantastical.
I love fantasy as a genre but in this case, I found it faintly ridiculous and it took one of my favourite and most fascinating historical figures and glossed over all the important stuff instead making it a little too fluffy for me. I love the story of Jane Grey because it's about the love story between Jane and Gifford Dudley and I didn't really feel that the author's got to the heart of this. The other overwhelmingly wonderful thing about the movie version of Jane Grey is how she fought to try and make a change in the country even when she was only on the throne for such a short time. She had a strong sense of justice and wanted more equality for people, a proper currency that was for everyman and this could have been a powerful and moving story in the novel if we had not been so focused upon the animal/humans changing form storyline.
I have to be honest and say I didn't love this one, I sort of skimmed the last 10 chapters because by that point I really didn't care about the characters as much as I had thought I would when I started. I could only give this a 3 out of 5 stars because for me a wonderful story was glossed over and a huge opportunity missed to tell a story of a girl who fought for change in a time when women had little power and the love that helped her to rule a country, even if it was only for 9 days.