Title: The Lady of Misrule
Author: Suzannah Dunn
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction
Origins: Pegasus Books
Release Date: 11 January 2016
“Escorting the nine-day queen Lady Jane Grey across the Tower of London from throne room into imprisonment is Elizabeth Tilney, who surprised even herself by volunteering for the job. All Elizabeth knows is she’s keen to be away from home; she could do with some breathing space. And anyway, it won’t be for long: everyone knows Jane will go free as soon as the victorious new queen is crowned. Which is a good thing because the two sixteen-year-olds, cooped up together in a room in the Gentleman Gaoler’s house, couldn’t be less compatible. Protestant Jane is an icily self-composed idealist, and Catholic Elizabeth is . . . well, anything but.
They are united though by their disdain for the seventeen-year-old boy to whom Jane has recently been married: petulant, noisily-aggrieved Guildford Dudley, held prisoner in a neighboring tower and keen to pursue his prerogative of a daily walk with his wife.
As Jane’s captivity extends into the increasingly turbulent last months of 1553, the two girls learn to live with each other, but Elizabeth finds herself drawn into the difficult relationship between the newlyweds. And when, at the turn of the year, events take an unexpected and dangerous direction, her newfound loyalties are put to the test.”
My Thoughts: Poor Jane. She really got a bum rap. In The Lady of Misrule, Elizabeth Tilney gets a front-row seat to the insanity that is Jane’s post-reign imprisonment and gains insight into the reasons for that imprisonment. Then again, as Elizabeth and Jane face a longer imprisonment than they ever imagined, Elizabeth must confront the issues within her own life.
Tudor England politics are never an easy topic. Yet, Suzannah Dunn does a fabulous job explaining the politics behind the Mary and Jane battle and the stakes at hand for both. She details the forces behind Jane’s thrust to the throne and hints at the issues that Mary will continue to have during her own reign. In an era that requires multiple charts and graphs to map out the intricate relationships and branches of the royal tree, Dunn manages to make this brief portion of history understandable.
As this is a work of fiction, Dunn does play a little loose with historical details. However, what she fails to include or what she changes in no way changes that history or the story. She tends to omit tiny details that, while important, are not necessary to understanding Jane’s fate. I would rank her as a much better author than a certain other author with initials of PG who also loves to write about the Tudors.
If anything, after reading The Lady of Misrule, you will come away with a greater appreciation for the freedoms afforded to women in the twenty-first century. You will also celebrate the fact that our forefathers here in the United States had the insight and courage to throw off the monarchy. Who needs all that infighting and scheming? It certainly didn’t do Jane any good after all.