Sunday, 12 April 2015

Book Review: In the Shadow of Lady Jane by Edward Charles

It is April 1551. While the family of Lord Henry Grey are visiting their Devon estate, the Grey sisters are saved from drowning by a local medical apprentice, Richard Stocker. Little does Richard know that this single act will plunge him into a tide of religious and social upheaval that will change not only his own life but the course of British history. In gratitude for saving his daughters, Lord Henry agrees to employ Richard in his household. Lady Katherine has already fallen for her father’s handsome new employee, while Richard is in thrall to the intellect of her troubled but brilliant sister, Lady Jane, with whom he forms a close friendship. 

Following King Edward’s death, the teenaged Lady Jane is proclaimed Queen. Soon, however, she is deposed and put to the axe. The woman Richard has grown to love as a friend, confidante, and adviser is dead. Bereft, he abandons the intrigues and deceptions of court life, resolving to resume his medical apprenticeship. In the Shadow of Lady Jane is at once a gripping political thriller and a compelling love story.

My Review:
It's not often that you see Tudor fiction written by a man so it was no surprise that he had to put in a made up male character to be the star of the book. I didn't take to Richard at all which made it more difficult to get into the story.

The author obviously wanted this book to be focused on the women as sex obsessed idiots and the men as macho lovegods rather than telling the story of the plot to stop Queen Mary from taking the throne. In fact the focus of the whole book is the sexual relations taking place on this estate and it gets very boring. The only portrayal of the girls that seemed accurate was Mary, who was a sharp and intelligent child, often ignored by everyone. I always found her to be the most interesting of the three sisters.

I've read a lot of Tudor related books-fiction and non fiction, and I was not impressed with the portrayal of Catherine as a devious, manipulative slut who goes naked under her gown while out riding so she can get her dress caught in the saddle and expose herself to Richard to seduce him. This is utter rubbish. The Grey sisters were brought up in a severe household and it would have been drummed into them how important it was to retain your virtue if you wanted to marry a good man. She would not be acting like such a slapper. Catherine would have known better than to risk her prospects for a quick tumble with a servant. Her parents would have murdered her if she had got pregnant out of wedlock.

We also had her mother Frances having sex with all the young male servants including Richard. So he is meant to love Catherine who loves him but has sex with her mother and then falls in love with Jane? The guy is a sex obsessed tosser who will sleep with anyone given the opportunity! Yet he seems to look down on Adrian for his antics. Every female servant seems to throw herself at him at some point and he's always admiring their bodies so he hardly seems to really care about either sister.

Richard's fellow worker Adrian seems to be there just to have sex with Frances and bully Richard every chance he gets. Sex, jealousy and arguing dominates this book which spoils the exciting intrigue of the plot to make Jane Queen. The whole Richard storyline is such a waste of time and adds nothing to the story. We get an interesting segment featuring the plots of the family and then we get more sexual intrigue thrown in as the irresistable Richard is chased by someone else. Ugh, this really is just boring crap and the sex scenes aren't even that interesting.

If you want a good book about the Grey sisters try Ella March Chase 'Three Maids for a Crown' also known as 'The Nine Day Queen' in the UK. It is much better and full of tension, intrigue and better written romance.
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