Title: Innocent Traitor
Author: Alison Weir
Category: Historical Fiction
Published : UK, 2007
Innocent Traitor tells the story of the life and death of Lady Jane Grey, great-grandaughter of Henry VII, great-neice of Henry VIII, and cousin to King Edward VI (of England), and the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth Tudor.
She was made heir to the English throne by King Edward VI, a fellow Protestant keen on maintaining England's newly established religion. In doing so he disinherited his sisters, the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth, who had stronger claims to the throne than the Lady Jane.
Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England for 9 days, the shortest in English history. She relinquished the crown in favour of the Lady Mary, but was later tried as a traitor and beheaded for treason on Tower Green. She was 16 years old at her death.
Alison Weir tells this story from the points of view of the Lady Jane and those around her who would prove to have the greatest influence on her life. Weir presents the Lady Jane as a shy, unloved eldest daughter of conniving parents who used her as a pawn to secure their own interests, but at the same time was a highly-educated and devoted Protestant revolutionary, determined to do and suffer all that was necessary for her faith, no matter how unfair and misguided that may have seemed both then and now.
Not surprisingly it is easy to feel warmth towards and pity for the Lady Jane, and even though it is known how the story will end, the reader cannot help but harbor a secret hope that the author will, in the spirit of true artistic licence, provide the character with a far happier ending.
It is clear from this book that Weir is a historian, as she writes as one, and Innocent Traitor has an evident feel of academia to it. At times this made the story feel a bit "stiff", but as a whole, Alison Weir has been able to create a depth to her characters that either makes you love them or hate them, and has re-told a story that was and remains in every way a tragedy.