28/10/2012

A DANGEROUS INHERITANCE BY ALISON WEIR - BOOK REVIEW


"I can never forget the day they brought me the news that my sister's head had been cut off. I was not yet thirteen, too young fully to understand why she had to die, but old enough to imagine the horrific scene at the end. They said she had committed treason, the foulest of all crimes, but it didn't make any sense to me for Jane had only done what she was forced to do. and by that reasoning, I too had been an innocent traitor, just as she was."
This is the opening of this incredible novel I've just finished reading. The young girl in distress for her sister's horrible, unfair death is Katherine Grey, only 13 at the time her sibling was crowned Queen of England for nine days only to be  sentenced to death as a traitor soon after by Queen Mary Tudor  (1554). After Jane’s death,  also the life of Katherine Grey will be full of sorrows and pains in her constant attempt to pursue  true love as well as  the recognition of her status as heiress to the throne of England. She will have to fight against a fierce and very powerful rival, Queen Elizabeth I,   who saw her as a danger to her rule.

Lady Katherine Grey’s fate is intertwined with the story of another unlucky young royal child, Kate Plantagenet, Richard III’s  illegitimate daughter.  Katherine Grey finds her miniature portrait and a diary, and starts feeling sympathy for whom she imagined to be,  like her,  an unhappy victim of a dangerous inheritance: they both have their destinies signed by their having royal blood running through their veins.

The two stories develop onto parallel levels, distant in time, but so close in human suffering. Both girls will have to fight in the pursuit of true love: being of royal blood, a marriage for love is highly improbable for them. They have to marry for state reasons, they have to accept what parents and monarchs choose for them. The two  different levels of the narration offer a privileged perspective on historical figures and facts: Kate Plantagenet lived at Richard III’s court after his marriage to Anne Neville, while Katherine Grey is part of the Tudor family, cousin to Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth and always kept close to the court by all of them in order to check her movements as a possible contender.

The two stories merge into a quest for the truth about the tragic fate of the Princes in the Tower, after Richard III’s coronation as king of England. Kate wants to purge her father tainted fame after his death at Bosworth, even risking her own life,  and Katherine Grey, imprisoned like the young Princes in the Bell Tower  by Elizabeth I,   will try to get to the truth thanks to Kate’s diary.
Is the mystery solved in the end? You’ll have to check that out yourself reading the book. I’m not revealing any further detail.


Love, intrigue, power, cruelty and mystery are the main features of this gripping, remarkable historical picture of two different periods so similar in many aspects: Richard III’s short kingdom and the following Tudor  Era.  The privileged female point of view on the well-known  facts gives them a deeper human touch and makes history turns into a very touching tale.

Richard III in A Dangerous Inheritance

Alison Weir's fourth book, A Dangerous Inheritance , was published in June in the U.K. and on 2nd October in the  U.S.A. Being one of the  greatest Tudor historians, you can’t expect much Yorkist sympathy from her. That known, I read this book anyway, as an addition to  my previous readings in search for the real Richard III (see my RIII page). It is a spellbound story, full of passion and history in which the last Plantagenet king is seen from his daughter’s eyes. Kate Plantagenet, one of the two heroines in the book,  loves her father deeply but little by little she must cope with his dark facets. She goes on admiring him as her greatest hero, though she   witnessed  his violent acts of revenge against those who betrayed him. She still loves him deeply when he forces her to marry the man he chose for her, knowing she loved another. She accepts all his unexpected decisions and he is still to her her beloved father,  but there is something she really can’t accept about him.  Something she never will accept is the fact that her father might have ordered the killing of the two young princes in the Tower, his own nephews, her cousins, and she will try to demonstrate his innocence. She investigates on the real fate of the two unfortunate boys hoping they are still alive hidden somewhere, secretly sent away and saved by her own father.

Alison Weir investigated herself on the sinister deaths of the Edward and his younger brother Richard, the sons of king Edward IV, when she published her   The Princes in the Tower  for Ballantine Books in 1995.  This is how the book is presented at amon.com:

Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as dozens of modern accounts, Alison Weir  reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. We are witnesses to the rivalry, ambition, intrigue, and struggle for power that culminated in the imprisonment of the princes and the hushed-up murders that secured Richard’s claim to the throne as Richard III. A masterpiece of historical research and a riveting story of conspiracy and deception. Did Richard III really kill the princes or was the murderer someone else entirely?

Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the case of the two young princes in the Tower remain one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Many have tried to demonstrate that Richard III didn’t have much to gain from their deaths but no certain evidence of his guilt or innocence has never been given.
A major question concerning the guilt or innocence of king Richard is why did he himself not produce the princes alive, when rumours about their murder were running rampant through London?
This is what Kate Plantagenet tried to find an answer to and what the readers of Alison Weir’s  A Dangerous Inheritance  wish to find out all the way through following Kate in her quest.


In this engrossing novel of historical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir tells the dramatic intertwined stories of two women—Katherine Grey and Kate Plantagenet—separated by time but linked by twin destinies . . . . involving the mysterious tragic fate of the young Princes in the Tower.

When her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen, is executed in 1554 for unlawfully accepting the English crown, Lady Katherine Grey’s world falls apart. Barely recovered from this tragic loss she risks all for love, only to incur the wrath of her formidable cousin Queen Elizabeth I, who sees Katherine as a rival for her insecure throne.
Interlaced with Katherine’s story is that of her distant kinswoman Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. In 1483, Kate travels to London for Richard’s coronation, and her world changes forever.
Kate loves her father, but before long she hears terrible rumors about him that threaten all she holds dear. Like Katherine Grey, she falls in love with a man who is forbidden to her. Then Kate embarks on what will become a perilous quest, covertly seeking the truth about what befell her cousins the Princes in the Tower, who may have been victims of Richard III’s lust for power. But time is not on Kate’s side, or on Katherine’s.
Katherine finds herself a prisoner in the Tower of London, the sinister fortress that overshadowed the lives of so many royal figures, including the boy princes. Will Elizabeth demand the full penalty for treason? And what secrets will Katherine find hidden within the Tower walls?
Alison Weir’s new novel is a page-turning story set within a framework of fascinating historical authenticity. In this rich and layered tapestry, Katherine and Kate discover that possessing royal blood can prove to be a dangerous inheritance.

4 comments:

Carole said...

Hi there, the November edition of Books You Loved is now live. Here is the link Books You Loved November Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

Carole said...

Thanks for linking this in. If you pop back in a few days there should be a lovely collection of book links. I have just signed up to follow you. A follow back to Carole's Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers

Elizabeth said...

GREAT covers.

Stopping by from Carole's November Books I Loved. I am in that list as #2.

Elizabeth
Silver's Reviews
http://silversolara.blogspot.com

The Stuff of Success said...

Hello - I found you through Carole's November book list. I am also your newest follower from TheStuffofSuccess.com - Thanks and have a great week - Athena (also on the list)