Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7th 2016
**I received an ARC copy of this book through a giveaway hosted by Bedtime Bookworm, which does not influence my review.**
If you’re familiar with the history of England, you may recognize some of the names in this novel. The plot of My Lady Jane follows the brief rule of Lady Jane Grey as Queen, the successor of King Edward VI. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows play a lot with history, taking a very small snippet in time and creating a new way of looking at these historical figures. While much of the story aligns with history as we know it, the authors have a lot of fun rewriting this time period. For example, many know that King Henry VIII separated from the Roman Catholic Church and while history books tell us it was bred from his desire to divorce his wife, as she failed to provide a male heir, the authors create an alternate history where the existence of Eðians, humans able to transform into animals, is the actual cause. A schism between Verities, those opposed to Eðians, and those in support of them fuels much of the political schemes in the novel. The tone of the book is rather light as the authors poke fun at their characters and embrace the silliness of their story. The whole concept is a bit ridiculous, but through humor and good-natured characters, the story works. It doesn’t hurt that the commentary by the narrators is downright hilarious.
The characters in the novel are very likable. The young king Edward has never had much to worry about and when he’s given the news that his illness is fatal, he can’t stop thinking about all the things he wasn’t done and will never be able to do. At the beginning of the novel Edward is exactly what you’d expect from a young ruler who is used to getting everything he wants. In many ways, he’s very naive and doesn’t know how the world works beyond the walls of his castle, but through some rather strange circumstances, he gains a better understanding of the world and his place in it. He has a very close relationship to his cousin Jane Grey and a complicated relationship with his sisters Mary and Bess. Edward has moments of inadequacy that stem not just from his illness, but from the legacy of his father King Henry VIII which looms over him.
Jane Grey is known for her love of books. She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and has no interest in getting married. Her love for her cousin makes her agree to the arrangement with Gifford Dudley. As an Eðian, Gifford spends a lot of his time away from court. His father is more comfortable with him keeping his ability a secret as many in the kingdom do not approve. Unlike many Eðians who can control their transformation, Gifford is a the mercy of the rising of the sun, spending his days as a horse. Jane and Gifford’s marriage does not get off to a good start. Both resent the other and come into the marriage with very inaccurate ideas about the other. I really liked how their relationship unfolded, as they end up being very good for one another. Gifford gives Jane a different perspective about Eðians than the romantic one she’s acquired through her books. Jane’s kindness and concern for others changes the way Gifford looks at the world. He begins to see beyond his own problems and finds enjoyment in helping others.
My Lady Jane is full of laugh out loud moments, will have you hoping for a different outcome than what the history books have written, and will leave you craving more inventive novels that fuse together humor and historical fiction.