Monday, June 18, 2012
Review: "Her Highness, the Traitor" by Susan Higginbotham
From Goodreads: As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI.
For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England.
Then the young king falls deathly ill. Determined to keep England under Protestant rule, he concocts an audacious scheme that subverts his own father’s will. Suddenly, Jane Dudley and Frances Grey are reluctantly bound together in a common cause—one that will test their loyalties, their strength, and their faith, and that will change their lives beyond measure.
My Thoughts: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have read a few of Susan Higginbotham's books in the past and really enjoyed them so when I saw that she had a new book out that involved Lady Jane Grey, I was in. I have read a couple historical fiction works that focus on Lady Jane but this book was completely unlike any I have read in the past. It is told from the point of view of Lady Jane Grey's mother and her mother-in-law which is a completely new and different perspective that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I feel like Higginbotham did a great job of portraying a sympathetic character in Lady Frances Grey. There are several books where she is portrayed as a horrible, hateful woman but Higginbotham's Lady Frances was a loving, but strict, mother. I appreciated that she included extensive notes at the end of the book explaining how the research she had done had not pointed to Lady Frances being a hateful person. I actually really liked Frances Grey in this book while in other books I have not. I also liked that Lady Jane Grey wasn't portrayed as this poor, picked on child. Higginbotham showed her as a 'typical' teenage girl who couldn't relate to her mother rather than a saintly young woman. It was refreshing to see such a different portrayal of Jane. I don't know much about the Dudley family or Jane Dudley (the elder). It seemed like Higginbotham was kinder to the Dudley family than history has been and once again, she documented in her notes how her research led her to form the characters the way she did.
This was a very intriguing and well-written story. There were a TON of characters but I felt like they were easily distinguishable. Despite the fact that I knew how the basics of how the story would end, I wanted to keep reading to find out how Higginbotham would portray these events. Overall, this was a great book with a unique story and I think any fan of historical fiction will enjoy it. 4 stars.