Review: My Lady Jane

Publication: HarperTeen, June 27, 2016
Genre: Alternate history, comedy
Format: Hardcover, 481 pages
Add this on: Goodreads

England is a bit of a mess, and Lady Jane Grey's impending nuptials dragging her away from her books isn't even the biggest problem. The king is dying, his advisors are conspiring, and there's a conspiracy afoot. Also, her husband-to-be is a horse half the time. 

Here's the thing about this book: it is patently and utterly ridiculous... but it's a self aware kind of ridiculous. It's set in the mid-16th century, but the speech is almost entirely modern. People turn into animals. Lady Jane Grey's story doesn't end in a beheading after her nine-day queenship. The narrators make comments on the goings on, rather than just telling the story. Everything is lot more humorous than the situation really would have been, historically speaking.

All that makes this a very interesting exercise in storytelling. My knowledge of English history is far from perfect, but you don't really need a grasp of history to read this one, as it veers so far away from what actually happened. Most of the story exists in active defiance of history, but, for the most part, the narrators make it clear that that's kind of the point. The wackiness did make it a fun read...

While it was silly, and had very little to do with history this novel still had some fairly well defined characters that fitted the light tone of the novel. Jane was willful and compassionate, and more concerned with her books than the politics of England. The titles of her books amused me a lot! I'm a science student, so way they had lengthy and detailed titles of the academic texts was quite familiar (though the books themselves definitely weren't), and I quite enjoyed how Jane seemed to have picked up some pretty random bits of information from her reading (again, familiar). Especially the bit with the bear- I too often find myself in situations where I know a fair bit about something... but not anything of much use.  While I didn't enjoy the other characters quite as much as Jane, they suited the story well.

The only real gripe I have about this book was the Shakespeare bit. It just felt rather stilted being stuck in as it was... I think I might have preferred original poetry to that. It almost should have fit; there are parts of the story that do feel a bit Shakespearean- people turning into animals, the narrators interrupting the goings on with an intermission to comment, the RANDOM BEAR- but the poetry just didn't work for me.

Overall this was a silly alternate history that required a quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to get into. It's light, fun, and a bit random. It has less to do with history than most novels set on Mars, and it is definitely worth a read if you like something quick and quirky.

I'm a reader and reviewer from Ontario, Canada, which mean that sometimes library trips take place through a foot or so of snow. I'm going into my third year of university, studying Environmental Sciences, which I juggle with my almost constant reading. I've been blogging at my own blog and I'll be helping Yani out here as a co-blogger.

  1. I have this one on my shelf. I'm just waiting to be in the right mood.

    1. It is definitely a book you have to be in the mood for! Hopefully it works out for you.

  2. That's exactly the impression I got after about an hour of audio (the narrator is great, btw). I was really enjoying it, even though it was ridiculous. I can't wait to continue. Wonderful review!

    1. You just can't go into it expecting basically any seriousness whatsoever. I'm glad to hear the narrator is great (sometimes a narrator can make or break an audiobook). Thanks!

  3. I love light, fun and really random reads and this one sounds perfect for reading in between heavy fantasy books. I think a lot of readers can relate to Jane, I'm the same as you. I know so many random and completely useless facts through reading and one day, someone will be having a bizarre conversation and I'll be able to use these random facts to dazzle people with my intellect. Wonderful review Kelly, really enjoyed it <3

  4. Thanks! Nice to know I'm not the only one with a lot of kinda inapplicable facts!


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