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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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3713929,183 (3.68)21
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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Difficult to follow since chapters alternate between Richard III's daughter Kate and Katherine Grey, rival of Elizabeth I. Much focus on the mystery of the princes in the tower although there is no historical reason to think either lady worried about them. Lots of good historic info, just hard to keep it all straight (and dates on the family trees at the front would have helped a lot). ( )
  gailw | Mar 27, 2016 |
Historical fiction about two royal Katherines: Richard III's baseborn daughter Katherine Plantagenet, and Henry VIII's grand-niece Katherine Grey. They lived several generations apart, yet there are similarities between them. Weir creates even more, inventing a love affair for Katherine Plantagenet to match Katherine Grey's idiotic passion for Edward Seymour and giving each of them an interest in the princes in the tower.

Katherine Grey has always been one of my least favorites: she doesn't seem to have been brilliant like her older sister Jane or her cousin(ish) Queen Elizabeth, and she was astoundingly awful at understanding court politics. At least Mary queen of Scots had moments of audacity--Katherine Grey seems to have continually stumbled from one poorly-understood ploy to the next. Like, check this: after watching Mary execute multiple family members for messing with the succession, she's still stupid enough to switch her religion multiple times in obvious hopes of being more attractive to various factions. Then Elizabeth takes the throne, and Katherine conspires with the Spanish. Then she secretly marries a dude even after being reminded a million times by everyone that she can't marry without permission from the queen. She has sex with him all the time and gets pregnant. She keeps her pregnancy secret for like 8 months, at which point she confides in Lord Robert Dudley, literally the worst person in the world to tell this kind of secret to. Naturally, Dudley tattles and Elizabeth sends her to the Tower, where it turns out that Katherine was *so* secret about her marriage that it's the easiest thing in the world for Elizabeth and her ministers to pretend no marriage ever took place, and that Katherine is a fornicator and her child a bastard. Then, like the genius that Katherine is, she sneaks her husband into the Tower and she gets pregnanta again, never bothering to clear up whether she's truly married or, for that matter, getting married a second time to ensure this second child is clearly legitimate. Katherine then spends the rest of her life in captivity and eventually dies of what was probably tuberculosis. Her numbskullery is difficult to read in history books--when we're embedded in her thought process in a fictional story that strives to make her a sympethetic character, it's even more annoying.

Katherine Plantagenet is a bit more controlled. She seems blind in regards to her father, but given her youth and their relationship in this book it was understandable (if a bit frustrating). Very little is actually known about Katherine, however: not her birthdate, not her mother's identity, not whether she had children or when she died. Guesses to her birthdate can be made, in that it has to be somewhere between her father's birthdate and her own marriage, and her mother might have been one of several women her father gave grants to. All that we really know about Katherine is that she married William Herbert in May 1484, her father Richard III granted them several manors and cash, and that she was dead by 1487, when her husband was described as a widower. Weir makes up everything else about Katherine, and although she comes across as pretty well-rounded, it's annoying to know that it's all just guess-work, especially since Katherine Grey's section is well-founded in fact. Even some of Katherine Grey's words are exactly as she wrote them!

Also annoying is the connection Weir invents between the Katherines: she has Katherine Grey repeatedly visited by ghosts, or glimpsing or feeling Katherine's presence. It added a layer of falsity to an already strained story. When Weir is working with historical fact, her storytelling style is on much firmer ground. I wish she would go back to writing histories instead of historical fiction, but at least it's better than Phillipa Gregory's work. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This novel starts with a first person point of view of Catherine Grey (Lady Jane's younger sister) at the point of the first intrigue to usurp Queen Mary's throne. At first, I was a little annoyed because she had already told this story in Innocent Traitor. But the story carried way beyond the beheading of Jane Grey and through the politics of Queen Elizabeth's early reign. It is interspersed with the third person story from the previous century of Richard III's bastard daughter. It ties the two women together and gives a very interesting look on what Richard might really have been like and that all of the bad things we hear of him were rumors started by Henry Tudor before the Battle of Bosworth, when he defeated Richard and took the English Crown. As always, the historical details were impeccably followed from contemporary source documents. I think this is my favorite Alison Weir novel apart from Innocent Traitor! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 22, 2016 |
3.5 Stars

Alison Weir's latest work of historical fiction, A Dangerous Inheritance, chronicles the lives of two young woman - Katherine 'Kate' Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of Richard III, and Katherine Grey, younger sister of Lady Jane Grey. Although they lived in different eras, the lives of both Katherines share several similarities. Not only must they both survive in royal courts where enemies intent on bringing down either them or their families lurk around every corner, but they are also denied the opportunity to be with the men they love.

In the case of Kate Plantagenet, once her father comes to England's throne rumours begin to swirl about the evil deeds he undertook or supported in order to attain and keep the crown, including those that claim he had his two nephews - the Princes in the Tower - killed. Kate has trouble believing that her beloved father, who has always been kind to her, could possibly be responsible for such a reprehensible act. When she is forced to marry one of her father's most ardent supporters and move to Wales, Kate decides to investigate the mystery surrounding the young princes, hoping to prove once and for all that her father is innocent of having them killed.

For Katherine Grey having royal blood proves to be more of a curse than a blessing. By converting back to the Catholic faith, Katherine is able to successfully navigate through the court of her cousin, Queen Mary, without drawing too much attention to herself. But when Queen Elizabeth I comes to the throne many of her opponents covertly rally around Katherine, seeking to depose Elizabeth and install Katherine on the throne in her place. Although Katherine sees herself as the logical successor to Elizabeth, she recognizes that with the monarch keeping close watch over her actions one wrong move could place her very life in jeopardy. Despite the risk, Katherine secretly weds Edward Seymour without Elizabeth's consent. When the truth of the marriage comes out, Katherine is separated from her husband and imprisoned in the Tower where she begins to hear voices calling out for help. Convinced that the voices are those of the two princes imprisoned by their Uncle Richard, Katherine joins forces with her kindly jailer to discover the truth about what happened to them.

Overall, A Dangerous Inheritance is an enjoyable and interesting novel. While very little is known about the life of Kate Plantagenet, Weir does a good job of plausibly bringing this young woman sympathetically to life. Weir's characterization of Katherine Grey, whose history is better known, is also well done, although given many of the ordeals faced by Katherine under Elizabeth I were caused by her own poor decisions, readers may understandably find it difficult to feel sorry for her. Although I do not believe Richard III to be the evil king history has made him out to be, the fact that he comes across negatively in this book didn't diminish my overall enjoyment of the story. While I enjoyed both Kate and Katherine's story lines in and of themselves, the constant switch in narrative from one Katherine to the other does interrupt the book's flow. In addition, the common thread linking the two story lines together, the women's investigation of the fate of the princes in the tower, seemed forced. As a result, I would have preferred their stories to have been told in separate novels.

Note: An e-copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
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 |
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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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