“Jane, as we mentioned earlier, loved books. There was nothing she relished more than the weight of a hefty tome in her hands, each beautiful volume of knowledge as rare and wonderful and fascinating as the last. 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 the letters before her eyes. And most of all, she loved the way that books could transport her from her otherwise mundane and stifling life and offer the experiences of a hundred other lives. Through books she could see the world.”
TITLE & AUTHOR: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
SERIES: The Lady Janies, #1
GENRE: Historical Fiction/Fantasy/YA/Humor
PUBLISHED : September 1st 2016, by Walker Books
MY RATING: 5/5
I have found my soulmate.
And it’s this book. Thank you Cynthia, Jodi and Brodi for this awesome experience! If you, readers, are doubting a book written not by two, but three authors, like I did, let me reassure you – no reason to fear, the lines are seamless and the novel is amazing.
First, a little bit of background. If you’re a history, and especially a Tudor freak like me, you already know who Lady Jane Grey was. If not, then you must know about the infamous Henry VIII Tudor, who married six times, beheaded some of his wives, divorced others, and initiated the reformation of the church of England and thus dividing people into Catholics and Protestants. Now, Henry started his blasphemous streak because he fell desperately in love in Anne Boleyn, and because of the teensy fact that his legal wife, Catherine of Aragon, couldn’t give him a male heir in 24 years of marriage. After Anne too failed, and lost her head, he continued trying until he produced his only legal son and heir, Edward VI.
Edward was a sickly child and died at the age of 15, but not before he revised his succession line to exclude Henry’s two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, from it. In an attempt to secure both a male and a Protestant ruler, he named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, and her future male offspring as his legal heirs. Jane was hastily married off, and after Edward died she was crowned Queen of England. She ruled for nine days, after which she was deposed by Mary and then beheaded.
The Revised History
“For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door.”
Now forget half of what I said, because My Lady Jane is a completely different story. It’s a re-imagining, rather than a retelling. Catholics and Protestants are Verities and Eðians. Eðians are people who can shapeshift into a certain animal, and Verities are people who hate and persecute them. King Henry was a fierce lion himself. Edward is just very sick and dying of the ‘affliction’, and he wants to protect his country from Verities such as Mary, and to respect the male-ruling custom, so through various scheming and trickery he is nudged to leave his throne to Lady Jane Grey, his first cousin once removed.
Jane doesn’t want to be a queen. And she most certainly doesn’t want to marry a man whom she’s never met, but she does all that to please her dear, dying cousin. What Jane doesn’t know, is that her husband to be, Gifford ‘G’ Dudley, is a horse. Quite literally.
“Inside Gifford’s bedchamber, the clomping paused and something decidedly wet sounding plopped on the floor. A rank odor came from the room. Unacceptable.”
What Jane really, and only loves are books. Jane is a true bookworm, carrying a copy of “An Analysis of Eðians‘ Paintings and Their Impact on Society: Volume Three”, or “The Unabridged History of the Beet in England: Volume Five” with her at all times. The first thing she notices in a room is a bookshelf, or a lack of it. Her ideal day would be spent with a book or three, most certainly not with a horse.
“She devoured books several times a day, the way ordinary people took their meals.”
I love you Jane.
“Who on earth could feel comfortable enough to sleep in a room with no books?”
I feel you Jane.
On the other hand, Gifford too doesn’t want to marry Jane, or be a consort to the Queen. Mainly because he spends his days frolicking in the fields on all fours.
“He kept trying to think of all the reasons why it was good not to be a king. First, it would be hard to gallop with a crown. Second, if he were king, he would rarely be alone, and would hardly be allowed to jaunt about the countryside on his own. He’d probably have an advisor on his back. How degrading.”
Now, I won’t reveal much of the plot, because of the various twists and
shifts turns, but I can tell you what this novel has in abundance. It’s the well written and lovable characters and their relationships; the witty humor that had me snorting in a bus full of people; the romance that made even me shed a tear; the various puns, silly jokes and cultural references. And quite a lot of Eðians.
“There were also a handful of invitations to preside over state events, visit various nobles’ country homes, and attend something called the Red Wedding. Jane checked the “will not attend” box without giving this last invitation a second thought. As if she wanted to go to any more weddings.”
Nod, nod. 😉
I had so much fun reading this, and all snorting and crying aside, this novel is interesting through and through. It purposely changes history in a way to give Jane a happy ending, and I’m in for it. I already have an ARC of the next book in this series, “My Plain Jane”, focusing on Jane Eyre and ghost hunts, and the third one will be about Calamity Jane. I think this is a brilliant idea, and I applaud these three women on their super weird, funny and masterfully executed achievement, and I hope they’ll give us even more pleasingly changed histories. And more puns!
“A group of drunken men looked at Gifford as if they were disgusted someone could consume so much ale.”
“G averted his eyes from her southern hemisphere, and then from her northern hemisphere, and then decided the only safe place to look was the stars.”
“How dare you steal what is mine. You poisonous bunch-back’d toad!”
I recommend this book to all history buffs who also like silly jokes and animals, and books. And puns, lots of puns.