Innocent Traitor

August 26, 2009 at 12:00 am 5 comments

It is over. My trial has ended, and I am now back in the Tower of London, this place that was once my palace and is now my prison.

Yes, I know Corey called Alison Weir ‘slightly fluffy’ last week, and she’s not wrong. In fact, she’s more than likely absolutely correct, being a history student and extremely intelligent. But as an English major, I really enjoyed Innocent Traitor, fluff aside.

This book is about Lady Jane Grey, a sixteen-year-old girl who sat on the English throne for nine days in 1553, making her the shortest-reigning English monarch in history. My knowledge of the English crown being somewhat limited to whatever I gleaned from Philipa Gregory novels, I naturally didn’t know much about this girl, or in fact how she got to be on the throne at all.

Weir makes Lady Jane’s claim to the throne and her succession crystal clear in this smart, but readable, historical novel. At least, as crystal clear as anything can be when politics are involved, and when the veil of history makes motives and exact events a little blurry. To her credit, Weir notes at the end of her story that she has delved into speculation and even a little psychology in order to make her story ring true, and the intentions and emotions she assigns to her characters may not be entirely accurate. This admission only underscores Weir’s dedication to historical accuracy, and in fact increased my respect for her as an author.

Anytime I can learn something from an historical novel, I have to admit I’m enthralled. Weir kept me reading her book almost every waking minute until I turned the last page. Overall, Innocent Traitor was an amazing virtual trip to the pre-Elizabethan age, and well worth at least borrowing for any fan of the period.


Entry filed under: Historical Fiction. Tags: , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  August 26, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Can I just say that I love Lady Jane Grey? She seems like such an interesting woman who was forced into a bad situation and ultimately sacrificed through no fault of her own. Anyway, I think she’s great and I would be first in line to read a novel about her life!

    And, in terms of me calling her “fluffy,” I qualify my statement to say that Alison Weir is a good writer, but not a great historian. Her nonfiction books regurgitate history in readable broad strokes rather than present any new arguments. They are great for what they are, actually, but they aren’t remotely academic.

    • 2. KT  |  August 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

      Ah ha! Yes, your last paragraph is basically what I meant, though you were more articulate. For someone like me who would like a primer on the period, her works seem like they’d be really interesting, but for a serious scholar, they would in fact be ‘fluffy.’

      And Jane Grey rocks :D I didn’t realize that she was actually a princess in line to the throne and not just some random chick! Shows how much I need a Weir-style primer, I suppose….

      • 3. Corey  |  August 27, 2009 at 6:12 am

        Okay, apparently there is a movie about Lady Jane Grey with our buddy Cary Elwes and Helena Bonham-Carter in her first movie role. Um, I think we need to see this to live fulfilled lives!

      • 4. KT  |  August 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm

        Yeah we do! When was this movie made? Before they both went nutty? :P

      • 5. Corey  |  August 28, 2009 at 6:32 am

        It the 80s! This is even before they were awesome in the first place, so definitely before the Ella Enchanted/Tim Burton fiascoes. :)

        (Sidebar: Cary Elwes was an an EXCELLENT episode of “Psych” recently. He was great!)


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