The Lady of Misrule, Suzannah Dunn
The Lady of Misrule, Suzannah Dunn
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: History, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
For a long while I read mainly historical fiction – Phillipa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sharon Penryn and CJ Samsom but then discovered fantasy wasn’t all star trek type sci-fi, and I’ve read little historical fiction in recent years, just the odd one now and then. Of all historical fiction this period interests me most, so many changes in the world, so much going on and the political intrigues…
Well, the Monarchy is in jeopardy, Lady Jane Grey, a 16 year old had just been crowned Queen, due largely to the manipulations of her and her husbands family. Guildford, her husband, is just a boy too, but the fantasy doesn’t last long, and its just days before they are both escorted to the Tower and Mary takes over. Can Mary hold on though? She has problems, is sickly, unmarried and probably too old for an heir, but she is determined to bring the country back to Catholicism, and this means getting rid of those who could threaten her rule.
Elizabeth volunteers to stay with Jane in her imprisonment, she’s the baby of the family, always been a little spoiled and after having a fling – an affair of sorts – with one of her fathers good friends is looking for an escape. Elizabeth is a bit of an innocent, she sways through life never really thinking what direction she’ll end in, and that’s pretty much how she got in the situation with Harry. The two girls are a similar age but what a contrast, Elizabeth is young for her age, never thinking of responsibility and the consequences of her actions – moved by impulse most of the while and that’s what brought her to the house where Jane is imprisoned. Its not a cell, and just a set of rooms the two girls share and Elizabeth has more freedom to wander outside etc but mostly stays with Jane. They form an odd sort of kinship. In contrast Jane is sixteen going on sixty – responsible far beyond her years, devout in her faith, fiercely convinced right will prevail. She studies books continuously and writes to her contacts, but remains quite a secretive person. Guildford seems a real boy at first, very much ruled by his parents and its clear Jane doesn’t see him as an equal, that she married for political reasons and obedience, and he would never have been King in anything but name if that…slowly as we see more of the three we see underneath the surface, see that they are more than they first project.
I enjoyed lots of this book, I like when authors take a period in history and personalise it, showing it to us by way of a few characters we can follow closely but…to be honest at times I was bored by this and put it to one side. Its seems a long story going nowhere. I felt for Guildford and Jane, pushed into a position by their parents they had no other choice, that was the norm then sadly, but they were left, abandoned almost, to bear the consequences of their parents actions. Its a sad time looking back, when the politics of the Church and the Monarchy were in such disarray that no one knew quite where to go, what to do or say. It was so precarious and poor Jane and Guildford were hung out to dry. I really felt for Elizabeth at the end, waiting for the reprieve though I got the sense Jane and Guildford had accepted their fate. I so felt for him when Jane asks Elizabeth not to see him just before the end. Over the months Elizabeth had come to a sort of friendship with him, and I’m not sure why Jane made that request. I felt the end was incredibly abrupt – after all the meandering through the book, the turns and twists that really led nowhere this major part was just cut swiftly – much like the axe! I was tapping my kindle expecting another few pages, but no, there were no more and that really was it. It felt unfinished and I wanted to know where Elizabeth went, what happened to her, even if it was just a three page epilogue., without it the story just felt odd to me.
Stars: Three – its a book that had much going for it, but also felt missing parts and its not one I’d re read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers