Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies #1
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Retellings
Published: June 7th, 2016 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?
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.”
Lady Jane Grey’s story is one I’ve read many times over, the queen who ruled England for nine days and then had her head chopped off. But as our narrators say: “Sometimes, history gets it all wrong”, and I must say, I rather prefer this version of the tale! My Lady Jane follows three characters. First, the boy king Edward who happens to be tragically dying at sixteen of a terrible disease. Next, Gifford Dudley, son to a close advisor of Edward’s the Duke of Northumberland. Gifford also happens to be a horse, or rather, an Eðian, someone who can transform into an animal at will – except G has never been able to quite master that part. And finally Jane, who just wants to be left alone to read her books.
With Edward having no heirs of his own, the throne would naturally pass to the elder of his sisters, Mary, a staunch Verity (those who can’t shift into an animal) who hates Eðians, and hence entirely unsuitable. But his advisor, the Duke, has a suggestion, and so Edward arranges for his favourite cousin Jane to marry Gifford and names her his heir in order to secure the line of succession. None of the three are particularly happy with the situation, least of all Jane, but it goes ahead anyway. And then Edward begins to notice that all is not quite well in his palace – a dangerous scheme is afoot to seize the throne and our heroes must put together a plot of their own to unite a divided nation and save the kingdom – and their own heads.
“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put
down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Was that a horse joke?”
This absurd rendition of history should in no way work, especially considering how particular I am with my historical fiction picks, but somehow it does! Fact: as a frequent reader of Tudor era fiction, I’ve always felt rather sorry for both Edward and Jane, so this was pretty much the perfect twist on the tale I needed. From Edward’s dry humour to G’s propensity to spout Shakespeare and Jane’s book nerdish ways (which is basically every last one of us), these are some extremely well-crafted characters. My Lady Jane manages to hilariously mock every sexist notion and societal norm of the time with a surprisingly large dose of girl power.
It’s quite remarkable that this book is written by three different authors, because nowhere in the narration do you ever get a hint of that. It flows perfectly. The comedy in this book is on point and it was just so much fun! I had to take breaks from reading just to laugh at the ingenious humour and the more modern references that blend so well with this historical tale. It’s probably wise not to read this book in a public place because it’s way too hard to control your laughter.
If you haven’t read My Lady Jane yet, what are you doing? Historical fiction fan or not, this is a great book for good, long laugh right from page one, even if the plot is slightly cheesy, and a must-read that I rate five full stars with no complaints!
Other reviews in this series: