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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice girl in the wrong place at the wrong time, 19 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Nine Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
"In this account I have attempted to sift fact from fiction and present a sympathetic though realistic assessment of Lady Jane's personality and the events of her life." - Faith Cook in an author's Preface to NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND

"... the triumph of faith in the life and death of Lady Jane Grey remains a shining example of the grace and power of God in the life of one young person and deserves an enduring place in the long story of the Church of Jesus Christ." - from NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND

Anyone who's become acquainted with the history of the British monarchy from the time Henry VIII became besotted with Anne Boleyn in 1525 to the accession to the throne of their daughter, Elizabeth I, some thirty-three years later might venture the opinion that Henry's lustiness and obsession with siring a male heir resulted in a regal cock-up that took over three decades to sort out inasmuch as it ultimately tore the religious fabric of the kingdom apart, pitting Reformists (or Evangelicals) against traditional Catholics, and resulting in purges of both sides characterized by an orgy of imprisonments, beheadings and burnings. How different would a history of Henry's reign, and the subsequent years, had been had he been but satisfied to pass the crown on to Mary, his daughter by Queen Katherine?

The royal court during these decades was a turbulent stew of shifting political loyalties, naked ambition, outright treachery, and raw religious fervor that oft turned deadly to those that sought sustenance and largesse at the monarch's table. A perfect example of one who was apparently a victim is Anne Boleyn herself as chronicled in The Lady In The Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, though she herself was well versed on the subtle and not-so-subtle dangers of the ever-fluid seating arrangements.

Here, the victim of the piece is sixteen-year old Reformist Jane Grey, a grand-niece of Henry VIII through his younger sister. Jane is married to the eighteen-year old Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland and chief minister of the Reformist King Edward VI, Henry's long-desired son by his third wife, Jane Seymour. By 1553, the fifteen-year old Edward is into the seventh year of his reign after the death of Ol' Dad. But Edward is mortally ill with tuberculosis. The Duke, wishing to cement his continuing power through his daughter-in-law and son, convinces the young monarch to name Jane as his successor, thus bypassing the very Catholic Princess Mary and the Reformist Princess Elizabeth. Edward dies on July 6, 1553, and the Duke and his cronies on the Privy Council force the crown on a reluctant Jane. But Princess Mary makes her way to London and assumes the throne to popular acclaim and Jane is forced to relinquish the crown after only nine days. Jane and Guildford are held prisoners in the Tower of London and convicted of treason in November, but their lives are spared until February 12, 1554 when Mary, under the advice that Jane might become a rallying point for rebellious forces opposing the former's marriage to the Catholic Prince Philip of Catholic Spain, has their heads removed.

As a work of history, NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND is perhaps more adulatory towards its subject than might be penned by someone less religiously sympathetic. Author Faith Cook, herself the child of two Evangelical missionaries and the wife of an Evangelical pastor in England, has published, through the Evangelical Press, several books (including this one) about people whose lives have been transformed by the power of the Christian gospels. Faith is obviously impressed with the steadfast faith of the otherwise blameless Jane, who is shamelessly used by the ambitious and Machiavellian Northumberland and her own ambitious and craven father, Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk. The fact that Jane was essentially murdered by the Papist ax of Queen Mary makes her all the more appealing as a martyr figure. This is not to say, however, that the volume fails to informatively and adequately spotlight Jane's life and ultimate plight. Actually, the narrative is rather good as far as it goes.

NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND contains a few contemporary photos of locales associated with Jane's life, imprisonment, and death as well as reproductions of portrait engravings of Jane herself and a few others, all prominent Reformists who were executed by the evil Catholics. Sadly, and detracting from the book's value as a work of pure history, there are no illustrations of the most important players in the saga: Edward VI, Princess Mary, Guildford Dudley, John Dudley, or Jane's parents (Henry and Frances Grey).

In the end, I liked NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND well enough for the light it shed on a relatively unknown figure in the British monarchical succession. When I was last in London in October of 2010, I wish I'd known of her story so I could've visited her gravesite in the Tower's precincts.
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Mr. Joe
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Location: Glendale, CA USA

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