My Lady Jane | When History Goes Out the Window

Posted June 20, 2016 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Reviews / 16 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Lady Jane | When History Goes Out the WindowMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Also by this author: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 512 •Format: ARCSource: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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?

Well. That certainly was NOT what I was expecting.

I am a huge Tudor history buff, and I used to read about them like nobody’s business (Philippa Gregory was a high school staple for me). So when the lovely ladies at the EpicReads tent at YALLWest were hosting a signing for My Lady Jane ARCs, I was like I absolutely need one. While this novel is quite unlike any other historical fiction book that I’ve read, it’s uniqueness is not one that I’ll ever forget. While at times it’s absurdity became a bit much for me, I’m thrilled that it’s bringing historical fiction back into the spotlight (can we just agree to make historical fiction the next big thing in YA? Please?)

Top Takeaways from My Lady Jane

Historical fiction can be as creative as you want

I thought I’d know the inevitable ending to this book *historical spoiler alert…Jane died IRL* and while it really, completely deviated from history in its second half, it was pretty fun to see the authors choose a whole new fate for many of the characters, while still keeping the overall happenings somewhat consistent with history (such as who eventually ends up on the throne).

Non-fiction bookworms can be just as passionate

Jane is a HUGE bibliophile, but she is addicted to non-fiction books. Books about religion, animals, policy, history…she’s read them all. And has the most random wealth of knowledge because of it. Jane also seemed like a genuine book lover, and it literally came second to everything else in life for her. It was a true part of her essence, rather than a shallow character element to make her more relatable to readers.

Multiple POVs CAN work

Told from the perspectives of Jane, King Edward, and Jane’s husband Gifford, the POV switches had distinct voices but all had the same overall feel, which made the narrative feel cohesive rather than disjointed.

The art of the metaphor is alive and well

A major plot point in this novel is the rising tension between the Edians (humans who can turn into animals) and the Verities (humans who cannot and believe turning into animals is wrong). While it sounds (and is) absurd, I loved how this entire concept was a play on the Catholic/Anglican split in England at the time thanks to King Henry’s multiple marriages. The authors managed to circumvent explicitly bringing in religion itself, but still portray how it divided the country.

The fourth wall is meant to be broken

Oftentimes throughout the novel the narrators will address the reader directly with hilarious asides and historical annotations (namely about how they are going to entirely rewrite history). Again, it sounds bizarre but it really works. This sort of book could really set off an entirely new genre of its own.

Research, however, was not thrown out the window

While admittedly this book takes great, giant liberties with Tudor history, it’s apparent that the authors did do their research at least before making such dire changes. I’ve been to many of the sites in London that appear in the book, especially the Tower of London, and they do a great job bringing the details of those settings through, and I could perfectly picture where the characters were!

Don’t take history, or yourself, too seriously.

This is perhaps the key to reading this book. Only if you let go of the notion of how things SHOULD go can you really enjoy it.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Girl in the Pages Verdict_(1)

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge 2016

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16 responses to “My Lady Jane | When History Goes Out the Window

  1. Kim

    Inconceivable!

    I’m almost finished with this, and I think this definitely lived up to the hype! I love the Princess Bride/Monty Python references, and there’s even a little Ladyhawk thrown in. I really needed something funny and light and this didn’t disappoint.🙋🏻

    • I heard there were SO many pop culture references, but unfortunately I’m not familiar with the ones you mentioned so I’m sure a LOT of them went over my head! Nevertheless I found the book to be very lighthearted and funny, and while it took me by surprise it was definitely one of the most unique books I’ve read!

  2. I definitely want to pick this up! I am very intrigued by the changes to history that you talk about while still remaining true to the overall history. I love historical fiction that kind of plays with history, so I’m really looking forward to reading this.
    -Monica @ Tomes Project

    • It’s definitely unique! I had several people warn me that if I didn’t go in with an open mind that I wouldn’t enjoy it, and that really was the case…at times it was a little too absurd for me. But if you’re not a purist then you should definitely appreciate the humor!

    • Thank you, lefty! I used to be hugely into historical fiction (I feel/hope like it’s sort of coming back?) and so this was a really great way for me to get back into it. Plus there’s so much drama surrounding the Tudor family and so many shows, books, etc. that explore them that it’s cool they took someone involved in all of that drama in a more minor way to explore that legacy.

  3. I really really want to pick this up! I loved historical fiction and YES it should be the next big thing in YA! I’m glad the author actually makes her bookworm-ness real instead of absurd. So many authors make it really absurd and kind of shallow in my opinion. This is such a detailed review and really convinced me to read it!

    • YES THANK YOU I actually usually prefer characters who are NOT readers because of this exact reason! It usually seems to disingenuous when a protagonist is a book lover, like a tacked on hobby that’s thrown in to try to have readers empathize or identify with them more and it honestly makes me cringe 90% of the time.

  4. I really enjoyed My Lady Jane! I just found it utterly hilarious, and I really like the way that these authors wove history and fantasy together. Glad you found this to be a fun, quick read!

  5. I’m dying to read this one! I used to love historical fiction when I was younger but then sort of lost track of it. But I read Code Name Verity and These Shallow Graves this year and it made me miss that genre/sub-genre again.

    • I need to read both Code Name Verity and These Shallow Graves still! I feel like historical fiction is starting to become popular again, and I’m really happy about it because, like you, I used to love it when I was younger (I use to read all of those “Royal Diaries” books that were from the prospective of famous princesses!)

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