Rated Reads

My Lady Jane

by Cynthia Hand

Rated: Mild

By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

For those who have wept at the tragic true story of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen of England, and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, who were beheaded after Queen Mary took over as monarch and after the Protestant rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the Younger, the authors of My Lady Jane have created an alternate history, one which not only presents a happier ending but is clever, funny and altogether entertaining.

In this new story, some people, including the late King Henry VIII, Edward’s father, are able to turn into animals (he’s a lion who sometimes devoured people). These E∂ians are still not entirely accepted or trusted by many in society, and the group/movement of people who think they should be wiped out is called the Verities.

King Edward, all of 16 years old, is dying, and he is persuaded by his powerful counselor John Dudley to name his beloved cousin Jane Grey, his friend and a voracious reader, as his successor, bypassing his sisters Mary and Elizabeth (Bess). Edward and Jane have always wished to be E∂ians themselves but haven’t manifested the ability to change into any animals, while Mary is a committed Verity.

Edward is also persuaded it’s the best thing to have Jane married off to Dudley’s younger son, Gifford. G, as he prefers to be called, leads a pretty quiet life at home on his family’s estate, in part because he spends his days as a horse.

The story of My Lady Jane in many ways follows the true history of Jane, Edward and G, with that little insertion of magical changes, up until, well, it doesn’t anymore. And all along the way, it’s much in the style of The Princess Bride, even including a number of hat tips to that popular book/movie. It also includes swordplay, some kissing and royalty. And, yes, it has a happy ending, thus turning around the tragic tale into one that’s just right.

I had heard good things about this book and was pleased to find it delivered. Let’s revise all of the tragic love stories of history! (Luckily, the authors are working on two more books. YES!) I laughed out loud, I chuckled at (and read aloud to my husband) the little spots that reference some of people’s favorite quotes from The Princess Bride, and I immediately handed it off to my oldest daughter for her reading pleasure.

This is such fun.

Rated: Mild, for a handful of uses of mild or moderate language, a little not-too-detailed violence, some chaste kissing, and short but not elaborated-on references to the possibility (and the expectation) of married “consummation.”

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • My Lady Jane
  • by Cynthia Hand
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: