August 2, 2012

Book Review: Her Highness, The Traitor

People may know that Lady Jane Grey was briefly the queen of England during the 16th century, but the story of how she came to the throne is probably unfamiliar to most readers. In Her Highness, The Traitor, Susan Higginbotham turns the story of Jane's short life into a fascinating novel.

Lady Jane Grey, King Henry VIII's great-niece, was fourth in line to the throne (after Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, then Jane's mother Frances). As young King Edward visibly sickened, the scheming of those close to the throne became more complicated, and the Greys found themselves in the midst of it. Meanwhile, Jane Dudley, wife of the powerful Duke of Northumberland, loved her eight children dearly, but she has never liked the Grey family--until King Edward found it politically expedient to marry the teenage Jane to Northumberland's fourth son, Guildford. The marriage united the two pivotal families, and after Jane was crowned, their futures were bright--until Mary Tudor fought back against Jane's ascension. Suddenly, the Greys and the Dudleys were in a very precarious position.

Told in alternating chapters by Frances Grey and Jane Dudley, Her Highness, The Traitor tells the story of two mothers united in the quest to save their families from destruction. The language is occasionally a bit anachronistic, but what the modern tone lacks in historical accuracy it gains in making the dread of these two women all too real, letting the reader vividly experience the terror of the Tudor era.

Also, somewhat to my surprise, given that I tend to pride myself on my historical knowledge, I learned a LOT from this book. I've read several biographies of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, but I knew very little about the space between them. My knowledge of Queen Mary was rather superficial, and my knowledge of Edward and Jane's reigns was almost nonexistent. I think Her Highness, The Traitor is a great first step to start filling in the historical gaps; if your knowledge of British history is much like mine.

I really enjoyed this book - which spurred me to add Tudor England to my list of options for my next History by Three post. Per your comments, Tudor England beat out Napoleonic France and Revolutionary America, so look out for my Tudor History by Three post soon!

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure! It's interesting and historical.
I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness, and was compensated for it. The image is an affiliate link.

Have you read Susan Higginbotham? 
Any rabid fans of The Tudors out there?