Nine Days a Queen, The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi The book I chose to report on was about the life and short reign of Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane Grey was born in 1537 of the Tudor House. Lady Jane was the great-granddaughter of King Henry VII and cousin to Edward VI. Following her was the birth of her two sisters, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary. Ann Rinaldi uses historical fact and evocative writing to describe Jane’s life as if by her own teenage words.
The book was written as if Jane was telling her own true to life story beginning from her early childhood years, growing up in Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, to her final days before her beheading locked away in the tower of London. Lady Jane Grey comes to life to tell her side of this intricate story from beyond the grave. Jane, related to the Tudors through her mother, becomes third in line to the throne following the death of her cousin, King Edward. Unfortunately, Jane is betrothed to the son of a nobleman who is determined to keep her cousin, Princess Mary, daughter of Catherine of Argon and Henry VIII, from gaining the throne.
Jane ascends the throne for nine days after which she is beheaded. This famous conclusion to Jane’s story takes up only a small portion of the book, the breadth being a narrative of her life of privilege, her companionship with her cousins Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, and the more happy times of her life which were spent away from her merciless parents. Rinaldi goes into great detail about the elaborate food, clothing, and amusements of a young royal girls life, which help to color the story. The book tells the story of a young girl in her own words, who only wanted to live a simple life.
The narration of Jane’s story begins at the tender age of nine when she is summoned to go to court by Katherine Parr, wife of Henry VIII. It was of no secret to the rest of the royal families that Jane grew up in a pugnacious household, however it was also no secret that she found comfort and solace in her books and learning’s. Katherine Parr was a fond admirer of young Jane’s astute knowledge, being a learned woman herself of their time. At the age of nine Jane was requested to court by Katherine. Jane would go on in the story to speak very highly of Katherine and respect her as the aternal figure she longed to have. Jane’s own mother Frances Brandon, niece of King Henry VIII was a vile woman. Jane once stated to Roger Ascham, Prince Edward and Princess Elizabeth’s tutor that she was never happy with her father and mother; they were sharp and severe with her, and whether she talked or kept silent, sat or stood, sewed or played, it was sure to be wrong. They laughed at her, scolded her, often even pinched and nipped her, till she longed for her lesson hour at which time she could go back to her gentle teacher.
Lady Jane was described as a very loving and simple, protestant girl. Although she was thought of as meek by her mother and father, she herself kept true to the faiths she believed in. Rinaldi gives Jane a tough as nails, yet mild attitude. Rinaldi generates a harmless, compassionate character in Lady Jane. Jane’s life becomes a romantic tale of misery and distress. Even until the moment of her death, the former queen never gives up believing in the best of people, especially her cousin, Queen Mary. Lady Jane’s innocence is both tedious and charming, which helps to create such a tragic heroine.
Throughout her childhood, she remained close friends with her three royal cousins, Princess’ Mary and Elizabeth, and Prince Edward. Edward and Jane had much in common and it was thought for a time that the two would be married. However, throughout her young childhood years Jane was betrothed by her parents to almost any family of prestigious blood for a price. On July 10, 1553 at just sixteen years old, Lady Jane reluctantly accepted the crown of England after the death of her cousin Edward. Jane always knew that she was high in line for the throne, her mother made her resent it every day for giving Jane her rightful spot.
However Jane always felt that Mary or Elizabeth would ascend the throne before she ever got close to a chance. Jane’s life was used by her parents and father in law in a way of manipulation and slyness to further themselves amongst the royal lineage. Although Jane only reigned on the throne for nine short days , our text book, Tudor England, by John Guy, very briefly mentions Jane’s supremacy. Whereas both books mention the fight Queen Mary put up to regain succession to the throne, what Guy concisely mentions is that for almost two weeks Jane was the Queen of England. Guy’s concentration is more on Mary’s fight for the throne.
Rinaldi gives us the other side of the story perspective, what was happening on the inside of the castle walls as opposed to Mary’s battle in the countryside. Guy also doesn’t mention that once restored to her rightful spot on the throne, Mary almost pardons her young cousin Jane. That was until Jane’s father Henry Grey attempted a plan of treason upon Mary which went terribly wrong costing young Jane, her husband Guildford Dudley, and her father’s lives. If there was one thing I’ve learned from this book, it’s that I personally, would never want to be any part related to a royal family!
The politics and drama that go into creating royal lineage’s, heirs and heirlooms, are deceptive and cruel. The first and last parts of the book I found greatly compelling, but it lacked a bit throughout the middle. In shortening the story, Rinaldi overlooked a few points that I thought would have been vital to further understand Lady Jane’s brief and unfortunate life. As an example, Rinaldi scarcely mentions the role that religion was playing in politics during this time. Rinaldi also seems to let Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral, get away with his treasonous activities.
In the book, young Jane believes Seymour is executed for nothing more than rumors. When in fact, Thomas Seymour tried to kidnap Edward VI and replace the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, his own brother. The character of Lady Jane Grey of comes to life by Ann Rinaldi in this book. It was very well written and is not a difficult read. Although it does helps to know the background of the Tudor-House and family, Rinaldi makes it quite simple to catch on. Her attention to detail in the slightest things such as drapery, fine linens and right down to the shoes, paint us a colorful and vivid picture of life through Lady Jane’s bright green eyes.
Rinaldi also uses historical facts and knowledge to make the story more authentic and realistic. Rinaldi’s in-depth story of Lady Jane brings history to life to the reader of Nine Days a Queen. Lady Jane Grey led a life filled with privilege and emotional pain. Her heartbreaking life story will stay with the reader long after he or she puts the book down. I would certainly recommend this book to any person of any age who is looking for a historically factual read and yet still looking to indulge in a true life story. It is compellingly written in the first person, with a story that teenagers today may still be able to relate to.