Monday, August 8, 2016

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows


Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen

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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Humor is not my genre. I will totally admit that I usually hate funny books. I don't generally like books that try to be witty and make me laugh. But somehow, somehow My Lady Jane managed to sneak past my defenses and into my comedy-hating heart.

My Lady Jane is a retelling of Jane Grey, who was the queen of England for 9 days after the death of King Edward IV. I found this subject matter particularly interesting as someone with a casual interest in the Tudors. No, I've never done any research on it, but I did read Phillipa Gregory's Tudor books and own The Tudors complete series on blu ray, so I do greatly appreciate the entertainment value the family has provided. I didn't know much about Lady Jane, though, so I was really interested in her story. This one is unlike any other. Right from the start the narrator tells you that some facts have been changed rather drastically...

"And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.”
There were so many things I loved about this book, that I don't even know where to start! But since I usually start with characters, I guess I'll begin there. I loved everyone in this book, including the villains. A friend asked me who my favorite was and I didn't know! I found Lady Jane Grey herself to be endearing and relatable as a fellow bookworm. I loved her spunk! I also really enjoyed Gifford (G), Jane's husband, and Edward, her cousin! The male leads were hilariously clueless and lovable. There was substantial character growth throughout this story, which made me enjoy it even more. I love it when characters learn and grow.

But I mentioned that there were changes made to the history and that was honestly the best part, I think! The biggest tweak is magic, because of course there has to be magic in any retelling of Tudor England. This particular brand of magic is certainly unique. In this version of history, instead of Catholics and Protestants, we have Verities and Eðians. Eðians (pronounced Ethians) have the ability to change into an animal form and Verities believe this to be a work of the devil! (Gasp!) I bet you can guess which side the Princess Mary falls to... I really liked this addition to the story and, while it was obviously ridiculous, I found it to be hilarious and somehow perfect!

This is also not your typical 16th century society! My Lady Jane goes to great lengths to make fun of the misogynistic time period. Jane is extremely well educated despite what anyone thinks of her and prefers to read all day and never be married at all! The men who try to confine Jane to her ladylike box are made to look like buffoons on most occasions, although the men who treat the women of the story like humans instead of pawns are dealt with much more fairly. That is to say, this is not a book that makes all men look bad in favor of showcasing powerful women. Instead, all of the main characters are on equal footing, as it should be.

Despite what you might expect, this story doesn't all take place inside of castles. Instead, the characters have opportunity to visit many locations and make long treks through the country, which gave the authors a chance to build a gorgeous world. At least, I think it's amazing considering I've never actually been to England... It was so well done that I almost felt like I was watching a movie. I could picture it all so easily that I wanted to step into the book!

My Lady Jane is a fantastic story that I never expected to love! The plot is totally absurd and the entire thing reads like one big joke, but it works incredibly well! No, this isn't amazing, deep literature, but it's a light historical retelling that will probably give you the warm fuzzies and have you laughing out loud. I'm not sure who to recommend this for since I thought I was going to hate it going in, so I'm just going to say that everyone should read it and see for themselves!



°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
When I picked this up I had no clue who Katherine Kellgren was, but WOW! She was the perfect choice for this book! Her voice acting really made the book an experience for me and I'm convinced I wouldn't have loved it as much if I hadn't listened. I'm not sure if she would be as much fun to listen to in a more... normal book, but My Lady Jane was really perfect with her narration!