"Love is a torment of the mind.
A tempest everlasting..."
--Samuel Daniel, 'Hymen's Triumph' featured in Alison Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson, 537 pages
Publication Date: May 24th, 2012
Yep. I went there. Yet again. Alison Weir has a new historical fiction out...like I'm not gonna read it and love every second of being transported back to 15th and 16th century England. I may need an intervention soon. BUT unlike most of the other Plantagenet and Tudor era historical fiction books I have read, I knew absolutely nothing about Kate Plantagenet or Katherine Grey before reading this. The novel switches back and forth between the stories of the previously mentioned young ladies. Each young woman having lived approximately 100 years apart from each other, have stories that are strikingly similar. Kate Plantagenet was the daughter of Richard III, King of England after declaring his nephews, the sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville, illegitimate. After capturing the throne, Richard III comes under fire for the alleged murder of his nephews who disappeared from The Tower of London and, to this day, nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Kate's story takes us through her research into finding out exactly what happened and the need to clear her father's name.
Katherine Grey is the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen. Her story starts with her marriage and then moves to her time at court during both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth's reign. After an unjust annulment and a secret marriage for love, Katherine finds herself locked up in The Tower of London and hears voices of, what she believes to be, the lost Princes. She now believes it to be her mission to find out what happened to them.
Along the way both girls fall in love with men who truly love them back. While for reasons beyond their control they are both kept from their beloveds and in turn find misery, grief, and many other sad and tragic things. Thus where the quote at the top comes in. The romances were heart wrenching and raw and that quote really does sum up a lot of the events that occurred for these young girls. I wanted so badly to just jump into history and fix things for them! In addition to the romances there is also always the political intrigue of heirs and traitors and plots that at the end of the day, damn, you don't know who to believe. This part of history is still unknown and to hear another historian's version of what they believe happened is so interesting! You can argue one way for an hour and just as easily be able to see the another version of what happened. Ah, it's crazy!
Having known nothing about these women before reading this book, I was so surprised to discover two women who, on the surface, would have nothing in common end up having so many parallels between their lives. It was so unbelievable to me! I NEVER knew that Katherine Grey was such a big contender in the race to be Elizabeth's heir. Kate also bore the brunt of inheritance being Richard III daughter, but she was able to fly under the radar being a bastard and all.
I thought the story was really well-written. At times I almost felt like I was reading the same story with different names and different times and locations on the chapter headers. Props to Weir for finding similarities between these two unlikely heroines. I love connections in history like this. These women on their own really have no significant impact on history that would be noticed in history class, but Weir finds their stories and builds them into these fascinating narratives. I adore learning new things about this time and the different people that were major players during this era and these women were two I had never thought of before.
Like I mentioned before the romances that Weir writes are also incredible. The secrecy and betrayals and trysts that occur really keep you interested and wanting more. While overall I felt the book was a little long and I kept thinking at certain points towards the end that I was reading the same situation or conversation over again for the ninth time. The discovery of evidence by Katherine towards the end was a bit drawn out for my liking. I liked how Weir gradually built the lives of these women I just felt like it took a long time to get to where our connections meet.
I really enjoyed this book. I LOVED reading about other women of this time period that had interesting stories and an impact on things. It was not my favorite historical fiction book to date but it definitely kept me involved and wanting to read more.