Review: Innocent Traitor

Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey

Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Origination: Purchased from online bookstore

If you are a fan of British history, particularly the Tudor period, you are probably familiar with this author. Alison Weir is a noted historian and proliferate writer of many well-received non-fiction books, including The Princes in the Tower and The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Innocent Traitor is the author's debut fiction work and I'm pleased to report that she succeeds quite well. The story of Lady Jane Grey is a small footnote in British history. Upon the death of young Edward VI, Jane's family plotted to use her tenuous royal connections (Jane was Henry VIII's great-niece) to set Jane upon the throne of England. Her reign lasted just nine short days before the rightful heir to the throne, Queen Mary I, seized power. Jane was only fifteen years old and her story definitely falls into the "tragic" category.

Ms. Weir's novel tells Jane's story, flitting between several points of view, including Jane herself, her mother Frances Brandon, her nurse, Queen Katherine (Parr), Queen Mary I, and John Dudley, Jane's husband. In a lesser author's hands, the numerous and rapid changes in point of view could have resulted in a confusing, disjointed work. But Ms. Weir manages it fairly seamlessly and the different viewpoints come together for a more complete understanding of Jane and circumstances swirling out of control around her.

In the end, we are left with a compelling portrait of a very young, naive teenager who had the misfortune of being born into an overly-ambitious, scheming family who did not scruple to use this innocent girl to achieve their own ends. Tragically, it is Jane who must pay the ultimate price for their follies.

Alison Weir's second novel, The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel, was released earlier this year and covers Elizabeth I's early life up until she takes the throne. The paperback edition is set for release on November 4, 2008.

If you enjoyed Ms. Weir's writing and are interested in reading some of her non-fiction books, I've provided an Amazon list in order of publication. And keep an eye out for The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, scheduled for publication in Fall of 2009 by Random House.

Title: Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey
Author: Alison Weir
402 pages
ISBN: 978-0-345-49485-6
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: 2006


  1. I enjoyed this book, but I couldn't get into her Elizabeth book.

  2. I sometimes wonder if we might be on a Liz and Anne overdose? Makes me wonder how her new book on Anne is going to fare when it's released a year from now?

  3. I've often felt sorry for those poor writers who labored for years and years on this great book and then, bam, finish it just in time to see 20 books on the same topic come out just before theirs. That would just suck. (And would probably be my luck!)

  4. I remember learning about her in English history. Stunning that they'd execute someone who was all of nineteen I think. But then they did with Joan of Arc too, who was only seventeen didn't they. I better quit before I give someone nightmares. This sounds like a good story though.

  5. It really is a good overview of Jane's life. I especially like how the author dealt with Mary I's agonizing decision to execute her (here we go with the nightmares again). Makes you realize the sharp difference between political decisions and our decisions. Ugh.


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