Book Review: Nine Days a Queen The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi
Nine Days a Queen The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey
Author: Ann Rinaldi
Publication date: January 31st 2006
I had freckles. I had sandy hair. I was too short. Would my feet even touch the ground if I sat on the throne? These are the words of lady Jane Grey, as imagined by celebrated author Ann Rinaldi. Jane would become Queen of England for only nine days before being beheaded at the age of sixteen. Here is a breathtaking story of English royalty with its pageantry, privilege, and surprising cruelty. As she did in her previous novel Mutiny's Daughter, Ms. Rinaldi uses powerful, evocative writing to bring to life a teenage girl caught in the grip of stirring times.
It was refreshing and interesting to read a book based on Lady Jane Grey. She had been so overshadowed in history, and her sad nine days reign as queen was so overlooked, with no one even flinching over the fact of how she was so cruelly disposed of by her cousin Mary for a throne she never desired. What I really liked about this book is how the story and life of Jane were told through her perspective, and how every historical fact was portrayed through Jane’s own thoughts, making the book historically accurate, while at the same time not make it seem like just another history textbook. Because of this format, I believe this book; and books written with perspectives like this would be a great way for students to learn about history, because it is similar to a primary source, while at the same time it’s modified to a format where modern readers can understand easily.
The first thing I did after I finished reading the book, and was about to start the review, was to check the book’s bibliography. Because this is not a history textbook or encyclopedia whatsoever, I was curious to check Jane’s portrayal accuracy through the author’s sources. The first thing I noticed was that every single one of her source was published before the year 2002. In other words, many of them are more primary sources than an actual encyclopedia. This means that the author, instead of focusing the facts provided on Jane through the atlas and Wikipedias, spent her time in looking at primary sources so she can actually get the scenarios and facts through her perspective, in order to improve the accuracy of her writing this book as her. I believe this greatly improved the accuracy of the book because instead of just writing inaccurate facts, the author used the primary source to know when to put in false biased facts, due to the scenarios. This creates a situation of dramatic irony for the readers because when the reader read the bias that would’ve been in Jane’s perspectives, they would know the truth while the book doesn’t. Examples of these would be when Jane believed Elizabeth I (not yet crowned queen, was still a princess) had witch blood in her, because her mother Anne Boleyn was executed of witchcraft, and was believed to be a witch. The readers today know for certain that it was not true, but how Jane was wary of Elizabeth due to this this fact is an excellent example of how the writer wrote in false facts that would’ve been believed as truth in that time, hence fore increasing the credibility of the book.
Jane’s tragic fate made her, in a very strange way, almost the Marie Antoinette of England. Both never really had a choice in their fates, because they were put in positions of power most likely against their will, without ever truly knowing how to explicitly use that position of power. Not to add on the result of both the women’s tragic fate was not a direct cause of their actions or choices, but more of a result of the other’s misdoings. I, as a reader, found myself more and more weary as the book progressed. I came into the book having absolutely not a single care in a world, or an ounce of compassion for Jane whatsoever, and left it feeling like a broken-hearted person living only on the false hope that maybe it wasn’t as bad as it truly was. This book by putting in Jane through the perspectives of a story’s heroine really made me feel compassion for her. She was so naïve, and her life was a stepping stone for all the power-hungry people around her, and her death was a direct cause of that. I would definitely recommend this book to…all readers actually. It would not only be a more fun way for students to learn about historical figures, but it can also almost give the exact same effect as reading a primary source, only more interesting.