A Dangerous Inheritance
A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower
By Alison Weir
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345511898, 544pp.)
Here is another great novel for lovers of English historical fiction; it is a story of two women who are bound to each other through birth and circumstances. Katherine Grey is the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey and the niece of Henry VIII. Her fortune rides on the success of her sister’s claim to the English throne after the death of Henry VIII’s son, Edward. As so many of the women written about at this time, neither Katherine nor her sister, Jane, has any control over their lives and are used as a pawns by their parents, and the English Court. Katherine finds herself betrothed and married to Henry Lord Herbert as their parents plot to have her sister, Lady Jane Grey, become the next Queen of England. Katherine and young Herbert fall in love, but find that his father has a second plan in case the plot to put Jane on the throne is not successful. When Jane’s short reign is ended, Katherine then begins a fearful life at court, never sure who are her enemies and who are her friends. Katherine’s first marriage is annulled, and she lives at court first in the hands of Queen Mary and then later in the hands of Queen Elizabeth I.
The second story of Katherine Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III, surrounds a mystery for Katherine Grey to unravel. What happened to those two York Princes who were locked in the Tower? There is some unknown tie between the two women, and Katherine Grey feels the connection from the first time she sees a portrait of Katherine Plantagenet. As the story unwinds, both women find themselves in the shadow of the terrible Tower of London and try to learn the truth about one of the greatest secrets of the Tower.
Alison Weir moves skillfully between the two stories of these young women who are so much a part of two pivotal times in English history. This is her first novel where two lives of women are the focus and both are surrounded by the mystery and the intrigue of the English Court. Weir spins a story about life in the Tower and gives her version of what happens to those two young Princes of York.