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A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor…

A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the… (edition 2012)

by Alison Weir

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Title:A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower
Authors:Alison Weir
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Hardcover, 544 pages
Collections:Your library, biography, History

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A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

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Contrasting between two Katherines separated by about 100 years, their stories were told in such a way as to the keep mystery and suspense alive even though, historically, you know the outcome of both lives. ( )
  Cleoxcat | May 28, 2015 |
I have long been a fan of Alison Weir's non-fiction books on English history. So, when I saw that she was coming out with a novel set during the 15th and 16th centuries, I jumped on it! (Somehow, I'd missed that she has written other novels). I couldn't wait to start this novel was very happy to receive it as an ARC. Having been a fan of her non-fiction work, it took me a few chapters to adjust to her "fiction" writing style. It is much simpler than her non-fiction (my guess it to reach a wider audience).

I liked the beginning of A Dangerous Inheritance (once I adapted to her new writing style)...I abhorred the middle (too long and drawn out)...and I LOVED the end. It is actually the last one pages or so that lifted my rating of this novel from 3 stars to 4 stars. Alison did an amazing job at tying everything together in the last few chapters. So many authors don't seem to know how to end their novels and everything just gets thrown into a big pot of words...but the ending of this novel made it all worth it. In addition to the novel, there is an extra "chapter" that goes into the research and real life stories of the characters in Dangerous Inheritance. I found this very interesting.

I think if there is one thing (well, maybe two) negatives that I found for this particular novel it is that it was very confusing at times with the chapter switching between the two main protagonists. Yes, they went by different names (Katherine vs Kate) and yes, they lived in different time periods, but....they lived in the same area and although each protagonist had her own set of supporting characters, it was very frustrating since many of the names were the same, ie. Earl of Lincoln, Duke of Buckinghame, five billion different Elizabeths (well maybe that's a tiny exaggeration). Oh, and that second negative...it just seemed too long for what I was wanting and expecting...

All that being said, I definitely recommend A Dangerous Inheritance for any lovers of historical fiction. ( )
  jsamaha | Mar 14, 2014 |
“A Dangerous Inheritance” covers two periods of English history that are at times linked together. One narrative, covering the period of 1483-87, focuses on Richard III’s baseborn daughter, Katherine Plantagenet, referred to as Kate.

The other narrative, covering the period of 1553-1568, is told by Katherine Grey, whose sister Jane is known as “The nine-day queen”, though she never had chance to rule, nor was she officially a queen at all, for that role was undertaken by (Bloody) Mary Tudor. Jane and Katherine Grey’s mother was daughter of Henry VIII’s sister, thus the famous Tudor king’s blood flowed through the young sisters’ veins.

Alison Weir does a great job of swapping between these narratives, of which Kate’s is written in third person past tense, while Katherine’s is in first person present tense.

Both heroines walk the fine line between royal greatness and eternal disgrace. Each girl let’s their heart rule their head and this proves to be their undoing. The inheritance of regal blood is indeed a danger. To quote from narrative:

“Tangling with princes rarely brought anyone anything but ill-fortune and grief.”

One would have to possess a hard heart not to sympathise with these two heroines, both of whom I took a shine to, especially King Richard’s loyal daughter.

Although I’m quite familiar with aspects of English history during the times covered in this novel, I knew little of Kate Plantagenet's life and wasn’t even aware of Katherine Grey’s existence. Thus I found these stories – despite (and because of) the obvious fictional passages the author used to fill in the gaps – most interesting.

The princes in the tower make an interesting subplot. Kate believes that her father had nothing to do with her cousins’ deaths – assuming they *were* killed and not taken somewhere safe – and she writes down her theories, which Katherine discovers years later and becomes fascinated by the tragedy. She in turn wants to discover the truth.

I believe that a good book should be engaging throughout, while a great one should be continually engrossing – this novel fits the latter category for me. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Mar 9, 2014 |
This book has the subtitle of "A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower." Historian Alison Weir uses the ongoing mystery of what happened to the "Princes in the Tower," the young sons of Edward IV of England, as the thread to tie together two stories of two royal women born about 70 years apart.

Lady Katherine Grey (1540-1568) narrates her story in first person. She is the sister of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, subject of another Weir novel, Innocent Traitor. Katherine has a rather sad, short life, under the constant suspicion of her jealous cousin, Queen Elizabeth I - as Katherine also has a claim to the throne.

The other story is told in third person, and is about Katherine "Kate" Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III. The connection is that Kate was married to William Herbert, who is distantly related to Katherine's first husband (in a non-consummated marriage), Henry, Lord Herbert. Katherine finds a portrait of Kate in the Herbert family home, as well as a pendant and packet of letters by her (all fictional).

In the letters, Kate tries to puzzle out what happened to the Princes in the Tower, desperately wanting to believe her father had no part in their murder. Katherine whiles away many of the hours of her imprisonment pursuing the same quest.

Very little is known about Kate Plantagenet - only the fact that she married William Herbert in 1484. No one knows when she was born or died, and she apparently had no children. This gives Weir lots of room to build a fictional life for one heroine, going so far as to imagine Kate was in love with her first cousin, John de la Pole, first Earl of Lincoln, who was loyal to her father.

As for Katherine Grey, in her ending author's note, Weir states, "I have adhered closely to the facts where they are known, although I have taken some dramatic license" (page 499). There's a third point-of-view in the book as well - the latter half of the story has numerous "interludes" with scenes with Elizabeth, which Weir says "are there to show Elizabeth's point of view; without them, she comes across as a cruel persecutor" (of Katherine; page 500). However, these scenes don't change my conclusion that Elizabeth was extremely harsh towards her rather foolish kinswoman.

I listened to most of the audiobook, which is 21 discs (25 hours, 41 minutes) long. The book is read far too slowly - I had to return it to the library before I was able to complete it. Narrator Maggie Mash does a good job with young female voices, especially Katherine Grey. However, the males she voices are frequently too loud, as if they were shouting. There are also a lot of long and unusual pauses throughout the narration. This is the first book I've listened to read by Maggie Mash, so I am not sure if that is her typical way, or if she was directed to read the book so slowly.

Nevertheless, I had to finish the book with the print version, which has some useful genealogical charts at the beginning, to help the reader keep the characters straight. This was an interesting book about two lesser-known women from British history.

© Amanda Pape - 2013

[The audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to my public library.] ( )
3 vote riofriotex | Jun 15, 2013 |
I love historical fiction. I also love Alison Weir. So when I found out I won a copy of A Dangerous Inheritance, I was super excited. I had high expectations for this book and I was not let down.

The plot was very interesting. I just wanted to keep reading so I could find out what was going to happen next. I couldn’t read fast enough. Even though it is a pretty big book, the plot and Weirs writing make it seem a lot shorter than it really is. I flew right through it.

The characters are well-developed and you actually care about them and what they are going through. I really liked Kate Plantagenet, but I loved Katherine Grey.

Overall, this book was amazing. It wasn’t the best I’ve read, but it is definitely up there. I think the only reason I’m not giving this book five stars, is because of how horrible weir made Queen Elizabeth seem compared to Queen Mary. I know she wasn’t perfect but I do look up to her and I think she was the best Queen.

If you’re in to historical fiction, you should give this book a read. If you’ve never read anything by Alison Weir before, you are missing out. ( )
  TheBookHoarder | Mar 10, 2013 |
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Book description
When her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen, is executed in 1554 for unlawfully accepting the English crown, Lady Katherine Grey’s world falls apart. Barely recovered from this tragic loss she risks all for love, only to incur the wrath of her formidable cousin Queen Elizabeth I, who sees Katherine as a rival for her insecure throne.

Interlaced with Katherine’s story is that of her distant kinswoman Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. In 1483, Kate travels to London for Richard’s coronation, and her world changes forever.

Kate loves her father, but before long she hears terrible rumors about him that threaten all she holds dear. Like Katherine Grey, she falls in love with a man who is forbidden to her. Then Kate embarks on what will become a perilous quest, covertly seeking the truth about what befell her cousins the Princes in the Tower, who may have been victims of Richard III’s lust for power. But time is not on Kate’s side, or on Katherine’s.

Katherine finds herself a prisoner in the Tower of London, the sinister fortress that overshadowed the lives of so many royal figures, including the boy princes. Will Elizabeth demand the full penalty for treason? And what secrets will Katherine find hidden within the Tower walls?

Alison Weir’s new novel is a page-turning story set within a framework of fascinating historical authenticity. In this rich and layered tapestry, Katherine and Kate discover that possessing royal blood can prove to be a dangerous inheritance.
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A tale inspired by the life of Lady Jane Gray's younger sister, Katherine, interweaves the tragic story of her imprisonment in the Tower of London with the fates of three other innocent political prisoners including Kate Plantagenet and boy princes Edward and Richard.… (more)

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