Wednesday, January 09, 2008
iPod Bookshelf: INNOCENT TRAITOR
I’ve been on this audio Tudor-era "reading" kick, you see, and it’s getting out of control.
At the present time, I’m listening to THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL by Phillpa Gregory, and I just ordered THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE by the same author. Meanwhile, I told you guys that I was embarking upon Alison Weir’s INNOCENT TRAITOR, which is about Lady Jane Grey. If you’re not very familiar with her place in history, it’s no wonder. She was just a teenager when she was crowned queen of England for only nine days, a pawn of ambitious parents and political jerks. Even though she was removed from the throne and jailed, she posed such a risk to the stability of the "rightful queen," Mary Tudor (Henry the Eighth’s daughter by Katherine of Aragon), that Bloody Mary was forced to terminate Jane's life.
If I could describe INNOCENT TRAITOR with one phrase it would be…
And that’s not a slam at all. It’s how I felt at the end of the book, when Jane’s destiny axes down upon her with a slicing blow. Stunned silence. I couldn’t think about anything else for the entire half hour after I’d turned off my iPod. It was that crushing.
Maybe this is because of the immediacy of listening to an actress reading Lady Jane’s part, or maybe it’s just the tragedy of getting to know the innermost thoughts of an intelligent girl who endured crappy parents and an equally awful life. In Jane’s mother—and her idiot father—you’re never going to find more repulsive villains, and I had such sympathy for Jane that, at the end, I wanted to cry for the injustice of it all.
Seriously. This is a powerful, powerful story that builds with every page. I loved it even while I was hating the inevitable outcome.
The audio version uses several actors to tackle each point of view, and it was a highly effective method. Usually, my biggest problem with listening to fiction on audio is having to suffer through things like a woman trying to imitate a man’s voice (or, God forbid, the other way around—it makes the female characters too creepy when a man tries to talk like a woman). Truly, I felt as if I was sitting there, listening to each character talk to me.
BTW, if you’re wondering why I’m Tudor-obsessing to such a degree, it’s because I’m trying to keep my head in England for Vampire Babylon 4. I’m also reading P.D. James for the first time and--yay--I've found another new author to follow!