Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Report: Innocent Trator

Alison Weir is a biographer and historian who writes about Tudor and Elizabethan history. One reviewer wrote : "Alison Weir writes compellingly. Her art is such that the reader is swept along by the story, scarcely noticing how very complicated that story is." (The Literary Review) She's written non-fiction and historical fiction. She's considered a popular historian. In her own words:

History belongs to us all, and it can be accessed by us all. And if writing it in a way that is accessible and entertaining, as well as conscientiously researched, can be described as popular, then, yes, I am a popular historian, and am happy to be one. History is full of wonderful stories and amazing characters. I feel very privileged to be able to bring them to life in both my non-fiction books and my novels.

The most recent book by Ms. Weir that I've read is Innocent Traitor, the story of Lady Jane Grey. Written in a collective journal form, we start at Jane's birth and follow her path to the Tower of London and her death. Jane Grey's mother was the niece of Henry VIII putting her in line for the crown. After Henry VIII died, his son Edward became king. History records suggest that both Edward and Jane were born in the same month. Her mother, hoping to groom her as the next king's wife, was cruel, abusive and domineering. Jane took refuge in her books. She was one of the most educated women of her time. She studied Latin, Greek, Hebrew, contemporary languages and theology.

Innocent Traitor is Weir's first novel. She writes her story from the viewpoints of the key people in this saga. We hear from Jane's nurse, King Henry, her mother, Prince Edward, Mary the King's daughter, Elizabeth, and members of the King's privy council. As the story unwinds, Weir pulls us into some kind of relationship with this young lady who becomes a pawn for power-hungry parents and assorted nobility. By the end of the book, our heartstrings are wrapped around the almost 17 year old who becomes a political and religious martyr. (Wikipedia has a nice, short biography of this "Nine Days Queen.")

I have to be honest, though I was pulled into the story, I didn't like the writing style for this book. It's a cross between an omniscient view point and personal recollections. From my
perspective, it doesn't work too well. A four year old can't have the same kind of thought patterns as an uneducated cook.

That being said, I still like Alison Weir's writing and will continue to check out her books from the library.