“You may think you know the story… We have a different tale to tell.”– Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows; My Lady Jane
Genre: Historical Fiction (Magical)
Summary: “Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
“Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
“Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
“The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?” -Goodreads
When I tell you that I adored this book, I mean that I ADORED this book. It was by far one of the best books I have ever read. It is light, fluffy, romantic, and hilarious at times. Once I made the excellent decision of picking up My Lady Jane, I could not put it down. The entire book reads like a sarcastic, magical retelling of by far one of the most interesting periods of English history.
To understand the book, you should probably know a little bit about the historical Lady Jane Gray. The real figure was the cousin of the deceased King Edward of England (successor of Henry VIII). Since she was the closest married woman in the line of succession, she became queen of England for nine days. Her reign ended when Edward’s sister, Mary, usurped the throne and beheaded Jane for treason.
In that telling, things don’t end well for Jane.
In the fictional telling, they change a few things about the world, my favorite being the existence of Eðians. Eðians are people who can turn into animals and from a historical perspective, it seems that they represent the entrance of Protestantism in England, replacing the religious wars with something a bit more whimsical and light. The inclusion of this magic system along with the conflict it created in the novel added an extra layer of tension and fantasy within the book that I particularly enjoyed.
By far, my two favorite characters are Lady Jane Gray and Gifford (G). They get married right at the beginning of the book but their romance develops uniquely because, by day, G is a horse. Since the two main characters can’t communicate during the day, I like that they find different ways to connect and learn more about each other (even though both of them are as stubborn as rocks). Not to mention, the banter between them is laugh-out-loud entertaining, filled with plenty of horse jokes. Without giving too much away, I thoroughly enjoyed their romance and the way the authors chose to develop it.
Jane herself is a fascinating character from a historical perspective. She grew up during the much-too-extensive era when women were solely expected to be wives and caregivers and, although Jane wants more out of her life, she’s also pushed by everyone around her to fit into the norms and expectations of a young lady in Renaissance England. Jane has a fiery personality and a love for reading that are frowned upon during her era, so it’s interesting to see her response to the roles she is forced to fulfill.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my reading of My Lady Jane and if you’re interested in history, magic, and stubborn girls who refuse to stay complacent, I highly recommend it.