Title: My Lady Jane
Published: June 7, 2016
Author(s): Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Length: 491 pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, YA
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door.
And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.
This book is everything I wanted it to be and more. The synopsis of the book might scare some people off, seeing as historical fiction and fantasy are not exactly two genres that mesh well, but seriously, do not let that get to you. And for those, like me, who tend to avoid historical fiction (like it’s the black plague (haha get it…historical joke…okay anyway,)) this isn’t your average historical fiction. If you’re looking to read a neatly pressed, factual retelling of Queen Jane, this is not that book. Sure, it’s based off the real Tudor era and (loosely) based on what they’ve done in history, but the history ends there. The narrators throw historical accuracy out the window to create an enchanting, whimsical, hilarious story. The Goodreads synopsis compares it to The Princess Bride, which is a great comparison. They’re both historical, but history is not seriously addressed. (Fun fact: Cary Elwes plays both Westley in The Princess Bride and Guilford Dudley in the Lady Jane movie (additionally: I didn’t know how to spell Elwes until just now))
I was actually worried about the three authors in the beginning. I thought the story would be choppy, with clashing writing styles and character personalities changing every chapter, but that is the opposite of what happened. This book flows so seamlessly and no chapter feels out of place. Honestly, if you ignore the cover with the three names on it and the fact they interlude the story with “We narrators…” you wouldn’t even know this book was written by three different people. (That doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it is trust me.) But the “historical figures transforming into different animals all the time” plot never got boring. It was so refreshing, so nicely written, so funny the whole time.
And by now all of you are probably thinking, I don’t care about your disorganized huge block paragraphs of text. I just want to see a nice pros and cons list. Okay, fine…jeez…rude.
The audiobook-I didn’t read this book, I listened to it on audiobook. And let me tell you, that was such a good decision. The narrator is a British woman with great comedic timing. I hardly ever laugh out loud when reading, but her narration, funny voices for characters, and the way she delivered the authors’ jokes were spot-on. I laughed so much, way more than I would have just reading the book with my terrible, deadpan brain reading it. Please, if you haven’t yet, listen to the audiobook.
The characters-Oh my god, the characters. I loved them all. Jane Grey is a witty, smart, and stubborn heroine. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. She does what she wants, when she wants, and most of the time what she wants to do is read. She brings a book with her everywhere. Jane is truly an inspiration. A woman after my own heart.
Who on earth could feel comfortable enough to sleep in a room with no books?
Then there’s Gifford Dudley, or “G” as he pleads everyone to call him, because Gifford is a terrible name. (Though, in real life, his name is spelled Guildford, which I think is objectively worse) G is basically the original Shakespeare. The narrators stress that he brings paper and a quill everywhere. And that Shakespeare totally stole all of his writing. Sonnet 18? G wrote that. He’s Jane’s perfect counterpart. Thanks to both of their stubbornness, they’re always fighting. Also, he turns into a horse during the day. So, there’s that. Edward, or as history knows him, King Edward VI, is pretty spoiled and entitled, but nonetheless is Jane’s best friend. He has a lot of inner monologues, basically complaining about women and everything else. Also, he’s introduced in the book as dying with weeks to live. Just a heads-up. The three characters are so different in personalities, but they all have a great relationship with each other. I want to be part of their squad.
The plot, obviously-Historical figures who have an animal form? What’s not to love? There are so many paths to go down with this plot, and this book probably went down the best one. Despite shape-shifting being totally absurd, the authors weave this idea into history so well. Those who have the ability to turn into animals, the E∂ians, pronounced: Ethians (thank you, audiobook), are essentially in a feud with the Verities, who hate and fear their power. Whoever takes the throne can save the E∂ians or have them all killed, so there’s a dangerous play for power throughout the book. For such a fantastical element, it’s extremely fitting and well-crafted. (I love saying ‘well-crafted’. It makes me feel so professional)
The shutting-down of misogyny-You wouldn’t think feminism would be prevalent in a book set in the 1500s, but it is, and it’s great. Jane, being the main character, shuts down every man or woman who tells her what she can and can’t do because of her gender. (Which, a lot of the time, is Edward). I love Edward’s journey into realizing women aren’t as powerless as he believed they were, which reflects so well into modern society, as some men still refuse to see women as anything more than objects.
Stop me if I’m getting too topical
“Your majesty, please reconsider,” Lord Dudley pleaded. “Your position will be much stronger with your husband as king. The people will see it as a sign of strength – “
She took a deep breath. “They need signs of my strength, not my reliance on the men around me”
The length-I’ve kind of touched on this before, but, as amazing and well-told this story was, 500 pages is a little long. Initially, I wanted this book to be a bite-size punch of humor and fantasy all wrapped up with a nice bow. I turned out to love the fact that it was longer, because I could not get enough of the characters, but it felt drawn-out. It kind of lost its whimsical and magical impact after a while. I got too used to the idea and it no longer felt unique.
Gracie’s character-Okay, this paragraph is going to be a little spoiler-y, so for those who want to read the book: shield your eyes! Look away! Here we go: For a book that focused a lot on women empowerment, Gracie felt like a step back. Don’t get me wrong, her Scottish fire and no-bullshit attitude is amazing, but it felt like she existed solely for Edward. We didn’t really get to see her on her own; she was either travelling with him or in his thoughts. She was used as a means to an end. She got Edward his first kiss and happily ever after, and that seemed to be her only purpose.
That’s my review! (This is my first review actually! I’m gonna celebate by eating some candy. I was gonna eat some candy anyway but now I feel better about it)
Discuss in the comments! Did you read the book? Did you not read the book? Did you like it? Do you agree with my review? Do you know of any other historical fiction books like this?? (because I would love to read them) Let me know!!