This story is so filled with British history it will make a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile’s head spin! Although I did find this novel to be slow in building momentum, it did start to redeem itself about two-thirds of the way through. I love British history but felt it a bit tedious at times. It was nice when I finally became engrossed with the story(ies).
A Dangerous Inheritance Book Review
A Dangerous Inheritance
by Alison Weir
Rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Katherine and Jane Grey are puppets of their parents, Henry Grey and Lady Frances Brandon. They plot and scheme until Jane is placed on the throne, only to be imprisoned for unlawfully accepting the English crown for nine days (hence the term The Nine Days’ Queen). Katherine’s life story in the sixteenth century is then told and entwined with Kate (Katherine) Plantagenet’s life in the fifteenth century. When Katherine Grey finds a portrait of Kate Plantagenet and old letters in a chest, dating back more than seven decades, she becomes intrigued with the writer’s quest to find out what happened to the Princes. Her interest follows her for the rest of her life.
Katherine Grey ends up in the Tower because of her closeness to the throne. Queen Elizabeth I sees her as a threat and places her in the Tower along with her husband (which the Queen refuses to acknowledge as legitimate) and children. Although she holds them in different areas of the Tower, they manage to see one another by bribing the guards and because of the kindheartedness of one of their jailers.
Much of the story tells of both women questioning the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower in the fifteenth century. They each seek to find the truth. One, to clear her father’s name in the involvement of the Princes and the other as a mystery to be solved and as a diversion for all she has to endure.
During many centuries of British history, people who were even remotely close to the throne lived life on the edge. The King–or Queen–in power had the say over who could marry. These two women dared to live for the love of their lives, even to the point of imprisonment or death.
With Kate Plantagenet being the illegitimate daughter of King Richard III, one would think there would be much more historical evidence to aid Ms. Weir in telling her story–even the portions of the book that delve into the disappearance of the royal Princes held in the Tower. She admits there is not sufficient evidence to do justice in telling Kate’s story, yet she does a marvelous job of inventing a believable character for the era.
Her telling of Katherine Grey’s life is followed so closely to documented facts–and expertly told–that I felt like I was there in the Tower of London with her. Overall, I would recommend this book if you are into historical fiction. These two young women endured sad, oppressed existences, yet they stood their ground and were brave right up until the end of their short lives. They may have been rich in wealth by the standards of their day, yet they had no freedom.
Recommendation: If you like A Dangerous Inheritance, check out by My Enemy the Queen by Victoria Holt.