Innocent Traitor

Alison Weir, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (402p) ISBN 978-0-345-49485-6

Popular biographer Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine , etc.) makes her historical fiction debut with this coming-of-age novel set in the time of Henry VIII. Weir's heroine is Lady Jane Grey (1537–1554), whose ascension to the English throne was briefly and unluckily promoted by opponents of Henry's Catholic heir, Mary. As Weir tells it, Jane's parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Dorset, groom her from infancy to be the perfect consort for Henry's son, Prince Edward, entrusting their daughter to a nurse's care while they attend to affairs at court. Jane relishes lessons in music, theology, philosophy and literature, but struggles to master courtly manners as her mother demands. Not even the beheadings of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard deter parental ambition. When Edward dies, Lord and Lady Dorset maneuver the throne for their 16-year-old daughter, risking her life as well as increased violence between Protestants and Catholics. Using multiple narrators, Weir tries to weave a conspiratorial web with Jane caught at the center, but the ever-changing perspectives prove unwieldy: Jane speaking as a four-year-old with a modern historian's vocabulary, for example, just doesn't ring true. But Weir proves herself deft as ever describing Tudor food, manners, clothing, pastimes (including hunting and jousting) and marital politics. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 10/02/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Paperback - 678 pages - 978-1-59413-241-4
Hardcover - 406 pages - 978-0-09-179662-4
Paperback - 406 pages - 978-0-09-179667-9
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4464-5591-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 363 pages - 978-0-345-49806-9
Hardcover - 679 pages - 978-0-7862-9459-6
Paperback - 421 pages - 978-0-09-949379-2
Paperback - 419 pages - 978-0-345-49534-1
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