1553: King Edward VI has died and the battle for the throne of England begins. Katharine Grey and her sisters are thrust into the center of plotting as their royal blood makes them valuable pawns. After Katherine’s sister, Jane Grey, is beheaded for accepting the crown that was rightfully Queen Mary’s, Katherine finds herself constantly under scrutiny and desperate to find her true place and position in the ever shifting life of court. When her cousin Queen Elizabeth comes to the throne the pressure continues to mount as Elizabeth sees Katherine as a threat to her insecure claims. When Katharine marries for love without first seeking the Queen’s permission-something that poses a further threat to Elizabeth if the marriage produces a son – she quickly learns just how vicious a frightened Elizabeth can be.
1483: Kate Plantagenet enjoys a comfortable, privileged life in the country as the bastard daughter of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. This secluded life comes to an abrupt halt, however, when her father’s brother, King Edward IV, dies and the King’s underage son, Edward V, is to become King. Kate’s father rushes to serve as the young King’s Lord Protector but tongues start wagging when Richard continues to make dubious, sometimes violent choices to keep himself in power. When Richard places the young King and his brother and heir in the Tower of London and they are subsequently never seen again the rumor abounds that Richard had the princes murdered to make his path to becoming King Richard III more solid. Kate cannot make sense of this loving father she has always known being the monster that so many believe he is. As Kate fights against being married off to a man she doesn’t love while trying to stay true to the man she does, Kate must also seek the truth about her father to make sense of this life she has been born into. But how will she ever find the truth when the very base of court life is built on a fragile web of lies?
Weaving back and forth between the two story lines, the two women’s circumstances are eerily similar. Both find true love in men they cannot have and both will do anything to try and hold on to that love for as long as possible. Both find that having royal blood in your veins means a life on the knife’s edge of privilege and destruction. And both will ultimately find that, while they might not have control over the outcome of their lives, their actions and decisions are their own if they are willing to accept the consequences of those actions.
A hefty tome of over 500 pages, A Dangerous Inheritance is a must read for any lover of English historical fiction. It is hard not to become entirely engrossed in the lives of these two women and the great injustices done to them simply because they are women of noble blood. While it could be difficult to keep track of the vast number of people and the various ways they mixed together, the handy family trees at the beginning of the book did much to assist with this. The authors notes at the end were also very helpful as they explained where Ms. Weir stuck to history and were she ventured into fiction to advance the story line and to fill in the holes now lost to history (such as much of the Kate story line).
A Dangerous Inheritance is my favorite kind of historical fiction: knowledgeable writer, great plot lines and a little mystery thrown in to keep me turning the pages. I have long been a fan of Alison Weir and this book does much to solidify not only that admiration but my continued passion for history.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.