Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Dangerous Inheritance (2012)

A Dangerous Inheritance. Alison Weir. 2012. Hutchinson. 515 pages.

I didn't exactly like Alison Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance. Yet I have to admit that I found it compelling. This is historical fiction. A Dangerous Inheritance tells the story of two young women: Kate Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III, and Katherine Grey, the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey. Politics is heavy in the alternating narratives. Both narrators seem doomed or trapped to live unhappy lives because of their families, because of who they are.

Kate's story is set in the 1480s. Her narrative provides some glimpses of Richard III. Mainly readers get plenty of scenes with Kate overhearing gossipy things about her father. Kate doesn't truly believe that her father is capable of murdering his two nephews, though she might be convinced that some of the others are murder: men being accused of betrayal and killed without trial. Towards the end, readers get to see Kate unhappy but passionate love affair. (She is in love with one man and married to another).  Not much is known about Richard III's daughter, and Weir's portrait is completely fictional.

Katherine's story begins in the 1550s, I believe. Her story remains tragic throughout the book. In a way, it is her story that makes this novel compelling. Yet, at the same time her sections could be infuriating because of the way the characters talked about Richard III! One element of her story was her curiosity to discover what happened to the two princes in the tower. The focus was also on romance and politics. If Katherine had been born into another family, perhaps, she could have married and been happy. If Katherine had been born into another family, perhaps, the Queen wouldn't have cared if she married. But Katherine served unto two Queens, Mary and Elizabeth. And Elizabeth did not want Katherine married, forbid her to marry actually. So Katherine's story of defiance is bittersweet.

There were many things I didn't exactly like in this one. Yet there were elements in both stories that I did care about to a degree.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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