Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey

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Ballantine Books, 2006 - Fiction - 402 pages
1570 Reviews
I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live.

Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen”–a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor.

Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.

Alison Weir uses her unmatched skills as a historian to enliven the many dynamic characters of this majestic drama. Along with Lady Jane Grey, Weir vividly renders her devious parents; her much-loved nanny; the benevolent Queen Katherine Parr; Jane’s ambitious cousins; the Catholic “Bloody” Mary, who will stop at nothing to seize the throne; and the protestant and future queen Elizabeth. Readers venture inside royal drawing rooms and bedchambers to witness the power-grabbing that swirls around Lady Jane Grey from the day of her birth to her unbearably poignant death. Innocent Traitor paints a complete and compelling portrait of this captivating young woman, a faithful servant of God whose short reign and brief life would make her a legend.

“An impressive debut. Weir shows skill at plotting and maintaining tension, and she is clearly going to be a major player in the . . . historical fiction game.”
–The Independent

“Alison Weir is one of our greatest popular historians. In her first work of fiction . . . Weir manages her heroine’s voice brilliantly, respecting the past’s distance while conjuring a dignified and fiercely modern spirit.”
–London Daily Mail

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Innocent Traitor was excellent. I could not put the book down and was glad I took the time the read it. Since I knew very little about Jane Grey, it was as if I got to know her a bit more throughout this book. My heart went out to her as although she tried hard to please her parents (her mother in particular) but never received the proper love and support except only when it suited them. It was only too late when her parents actually came to fully appreciate and love her. I really felt for Jane especially in her early childhood years. Her mother was just plain awful and only really cared for Jane (if you could call it that) when it suited her purposes (i.e. mostly for political gain and ambition). There were times when I thought Jane had what it took to stand up to her mother, but she backed down whenever she tried. It got frustrating and I thought Jane was never going to have her own personality and she’ll just be a puppet for everyone. Yet past the midway point of the novel Jane does take a slight turn for the better and eventually stands up for herself (particularly against her husband). Towards the end, Jane becomes a much stronger woman and despite her circumstances, maintains her strength. I loved that. She became such a strong character that I loved her even more than I did in the beginning.
The plot of this novel was well written and very interesting. It follows Jane all throughout her life and it highlights moments of interest such as the marriage of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour, and its’ failure. The addition of something like this is a little strange considering this should have been told all in Jane Grey’s point of view. I’m not really sure why this was added as it really had nothing to do with her (except maybe because she was around Katherine a lot around the time?) yet it was a small but well done way to take a break from the main plot and add in a mini story arc to it. I’d have to say the ending was one of the most dramatic. Jane stayed true to herself and that makes her all the more admirable. I absolutely hated the way everyone around her just started using her as a political pawn and her parents are just as bad as parents today who live through their small children and use them for their own gains. I really disliked her mother though. She was horrible! and she didn’t gain any sympathies from me at the end. Her emotions and “love” came way too late to even make a difference. I’m not sure what to say about Jane’s father. It looked like he was the “better” parent of the two, but his love was misguided and ambition just went in the way. It was sad to see that, as I thought he loved Jane more than her mother did.
I thought this was a great novel featuring Lady Jane Grey. It’s a tragic story but her strength is strong throughout the last half of the novel it’s hard not to admire her. This is definitely a worthy read for Tudor fans.

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About the author (2006)

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor of Aquitaine; Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley; The Six Wives of Henry VIII; Queen Isabella; and several other historical biographies. She lives in Surrey with her husband and two children.

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