Author: Alison Weir, 2012.
Genre: Historical Fiction. War. Politics. Mystery. 15th/16th Century England.
Other Details: Hardback. 515 pages.
Her sister was beheaded. Now her cousin views her as a rival. - from official website.
When your cousin is the notoriously insecure Elizabeth I, who tended to react badly when the subject of the succession was raised, being next in line to the crown is not an enviable situation. This is a stand-alone sequel to Alison Weir's first novel, Innocent Traitor, which told the story of Lady Jane Grey. Here her younger sister Katherine Grey's story is intertwined with that of her distant kinswoman, Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III. Linking the two women is a fictional journal in which Kate records her thoughts about her father and the mystery surrounding Edward Iv's sons, the Princes in the Tower. When Katherine Grey is imprisoned in the Tower after she displeases Elizabeth I by secretly marrying she becomes obsessed with the fate of the young princes.
I enjoyed this novel and felt that it flowed better than 'The Captive Queen' that I had read in 2010. Perhaps part of this was due to Weir having to exercise much more creative license given that so little is known about Kate Plantagenet. Weir had previously written a non-fiction work on the issue of the Princes in the Tower and her position here reflects that earlier work. She is not a great fan of Richard III and also portrays the Woodville family in a poor light in contrast to Phillipa Gregory. However, there is no doubt she knows both the period of the Tudors rule and the Wars of the Roses in great detail and here that knowledge and a greater confidence in the fiction genre added up to a highly engaging novel.
Queen Elizabeth I does come off in quite a poor light given her treatment of Katherine Grey though Weir does include a number of short interludes that give some insight into Elizabeth's actions. I was very interested to learn of Katherine Grey's story, which is not as well known as Mary, Queen of Scots but shows how paranoid Elizabeth could be about her relatives and how uneasily she wore the crown.
Alison Weir's page on 'A Dangerous Inheritance' - includes notes from Alison on the background to the novel, portraits of the historical figures, alternative book jacket designs.