Wednesday, March 17, 2021

My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Summary:
Edward 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 is Edward's cousin, and far more interested in books than in 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 is a horse.  That is, he's an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated).  Everyday 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.  (Summary from book flap - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  I'm not going to bury the lead; I loved this book.  It's a YA novel full of everything that makes reading a delight -- adventure, intrigue, romance, and suspense -- but above all it is riotously funny.  I laughed so hard my teen came in to check on me.  I read a page to her and we were both hysterical.  I actually cried my mascara off!  And not the crappy mascara, mind you; the good stuff that only comes off if I ugly cry or use soap.  

My Lady Jane tells the story of Jane Grey, cousin to King Edward IV and heir to the throne of England for nine days before she was, unfortunately, decapitated.  Sounds hilarious, right?!  Thankfully, the narrators have a fairly casual approach to preserving the historical narrative and aren't particularly committed to accuracy.  Translation: They make stuff up.  The narrators of My Lady Jane tell her story how it should have gone and in a way that is infinitely preferable to what actually happened.  The setting and many of the characters can be found in the annals of English history, but there are a deviations that are quite unexpected, like when certain people just randomly *poof* into animals.  Halfway through the book, the plot diverges sharply from any known historical record, but those unfamiliar with history won't notice (much) and those familiar with history aren't likely to care.  It's all the fun things and I am mentally changing all of English history to accommodate this new version of events. *intense shuffling sound* There. Done.  Jane Grey gets her happily ever after.

You don't have to know anything about history to enjoy this book, but those familiar with the time period will likely find some 'Easter eggs' to appreciate.  (Example: The conflict between the Verities and Eðidans in the book bears a passing resemblance to the historical conflict between Catholics and Protestants).  The narrators also have a tendency to, shall we say, borrow lines from certain well-known historical figures, plays, musicals, and movies.  The pilfered phrases, altered expressions, and poached prose will evoke a strong (but delightful) sense of déjà vu.  Some readers might take issue with the playful plagiarization, but to me it felt like the authors were getting their kicks paying homage.

I was hooked by My Lady Jane's unique writing style before I even finished the prologue.  The narrators are incredibly witty, full of playful puns and wry humor, and it felt like I was hanging out with a whole group of girlfriends, spilling tea and cracking jokes.  The story has several appealing characters, but Jane is my favorite.   She's bookish and headstrong, loyal to a fault and willing to fight her own battles.  Her banter with G is fantastic, clever, and oh-so-snort-inducing.  It was a pleasure to spend an afternoon with them!

My Lady Jane is the most entertaining book I have read in a long time, but to truly enjoy it you have to be in the right headspace.  If you're looking for something serious and broody...well, you're flat out of luck.  If you're a stickler for historical facts or physical probability, you will likely be disappointed.  However, if you're in the mood for something adventurous and romantic with the potential to have you laughing so hard you either pee your pants or ruin your mascara , then you've found it.  Congratulations and you're welcome.  

*UPDATE*   Lo and behold --  IT'S A SERIES!!!!!!  The next book is My Plain Jane (Jane Eyre!!!), followed by My Calamity Jane (well, that one's a bit more obvious).  I am SO excited!  

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  A side-effect of of animal/human transformation is that occasionally characters end up naked.  Although their utter lack of clothing is mentioned (so-and-so was naked!), other characters would hastily avert their eyes or become intensely fascinated with the ceiling tiles.  That sort of thing.  Honestly, it was as PG as anyone being naked can be and it was generally quite amusing.  There was a little bit of honeymoon-ish activity towards the end and, again, it was about as PG as that sort of thing can get (a few buttons undone and some innuendo).  There was a smallish amount of profanity, but since the A word meant donkey and the B word meant illegitimate it didn't really feel like profanity.

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