In the Shadow of Lady Jane by Edward Charles

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “It is 1551 and a single act of heroism plunges ambitious young Richard Stocker into a tide of religious and social upheaval which will change not only his own life but the course of British history. In gratitude for saving his daughters from a flooded river, the powerful Lord Henry Grey agrees to employ Richard in his household. Passionate young Lady Katherine has already fallen for the dashing man who saved her life, while Richard himself develops a profound friendship with her troubled but brilliant sister, Lady Jane Grey. Theirs is a bond which will only be severed three years later, when Lady Jane is put to the axe at the age of just sixteen.”

REVIEW: Having read many novels on Lady Jane Grey all written by women, I was eager to see if there might be any difference in how a male author might portray this troubled martyr of a girl, whose unwanted Queenship and untimely death make up one of the greatest tragedies in British Royal history. I was impressed by the way Charles portrayed Jane; in fact, his portrayals of all of the members of the Grey family were exactly as I had imagined them and as I myself would have written them, and each of them had me gripped from the start. I also quickly grew fond of the protagonist, Richard Stocker, whose admiration for Lady Jane and tender love for the Lady Katherine, as well as his friendship with the young Mary, make him seem amiable and lead to him becoming a likeable character. The story of Jane Grey’s downfall in all its tragedy is well known, and Richard’s character was woven seamlessly into the narrative of this sorry tale, so that in places it felt almost like a fiction rather than a non-fiction book – which is rare in most historical fiction. There were, however, some minor problems that I had with the novel – firstly, that in the editing process it does not seem to have been picked up that Charles often lacks the use of commas in longer sentences. This does not detract in any way from his general writing style, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but simply would have made it easier for the reader; sometimes I felt like I was racing through the sentences, and commas would have helped to give them a better pace and not make me feel overloaded with information. I was also upset that at the end of the book, we know of Lady Jane’s end, and are given clues and hopes for the futures of both Katherine and Richard; but Mary, who starts off the book as a fairly central character, remains a mystery, and we learn nothing of her future life. Overall, however, these are only minor problems and I would definitely recommend Charles’ book, particularly due to his excellent portrayal of the Grey family.

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