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European Royalty Group Reads > Innocent Traitor: For Those Who Finished the Book

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message 1: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Feel free to discuss anything about the book in this thread. If you (and others) are here, you (and they) have finished the book, so don't worry about posting spoilers. If you haven't finished the book, you may not want to read anything here yet!


message 2: by Kim (new)

Kim Well this was just a tragic story. I have heard it before, but I guess I just did not realize how little control Jane had over her life. Every decision in her life was made for her including her death. We are so lucky to have our freedom and not have someone making decisions for us. It is also amazing how power hungry some of the families were. I guess we have individuals today that are that determined to gain fortune and fame, it just does not usually include someone's head being severed from their bodies.


message 3: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments This book was very good, but heartbreaking! I was so sad for Jane when she believed that she could just return home: "I will happily relinquish my borrowed title and go home to Bradgate, there to live in peaceful obscurity with my books. That Mary will allow this, I cannot doubt: she is a merciful, kindly lady, and wise enough to understand that I consented to accept the crown only under unbearable pressure and with extreme reluctance." I wish this could have been the case, and knowing what fate was in store for Jane just made it that harder to read these hopeful passages!

I cannot believe Jane's parents abandoned her in the Tower when they knew Mary was going to win. They were absolutely horrible parents. I also cannot believe that her father was stupid and careless enough to try to put her back on the throne. He had to have known what the outcome would be if he failed, but he must not have valued Jane's life enough to care. I do not find Frances' change of heart at the end convincing. Based on a reading group question, it seems that Frances was back at court at this time. If she was, I personally think she was back just to save herself. I just can't believe that a mother who was so horrible to her own daughter all her life and left her in the Tower to face Mary alone would suddenly have this change of feeling. I'm sure the story sounds better with the mom suddenly loving and caring for her daughter, but for this mom, it seems like a big stretch.

The last couple of paragraphs written from the executioner's point of view was heart-wrenching. One of the reading questions ask if it would have been more dramatic to have narrated this scene from Jane's perspective beyond the grave. I think Weir made the right decision using the executioner's point of view. I think a beyond-the-grave point of view would have softened the ending and made it seem a little less tragic. I think it would have left me with the feeling of "Oh, too bad Jane died, but at least she's happy up in heaven now." This was a tragic story though, and Jane was a girl of 16 who was beheaded, and I think the story is better with the brutality of what happened to her at the end being laid out like it happened: "I raise the great ax and bring it down swiftly, slicing expertly and cleanly through flesh, bone, and artery; the slender body jerks violently, and the little head drops like a stone in the straw...." I think this is a much more powerful ending than any beyond-the-grave type of passage could have been.

Overall, despite the sadness of this book, I really loved it. I knew that Jane was beheaded in the end, but the story was still full of suspense, and I was still hoping that Jane would live (even though I knew she wouldn't). I'm glad that Jane finally got a novel devoted to her.


message 4: by Sera (new)

Sera Yay, Sara! I agree with each and every one of your points in that they were the same thoughts that I had when I read the book.

The second time that Jane's parent forced her to take the thrown was unbelievable. She basically died for the sins of her parents. I was rooting for Jane so hard, and it just broke my heart that anyone could abuse a child like that.

I'm glad that we read this book this month. It's an important one in the mix of events that occured after Henry VIII died.


message 5: by Sara W (last edited Mar 23, 2008 07:39PM) (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Thinking about Frances more, I wonder if she so easily decided to pass up the crown for her daughter because she knew what might happen. She seemed hungry for power, but smart (in a scheming sort of way). I can't imagine her turning down the crown for herself if she thought it was a sure deal. I guess John Dudley was really in charge though, and he didn't want her to get it, so it might have been a little difficult for her. Still, the logic they were using for displacing Mary and Elizabeth would have placed Frances first in line. She probably saw the risks involved and thought "No way!" Of course, she had no problem sacrificing her daughter to the lost cause. Whatever her reasoning, she remained alive at the end.

I agree that this time period is important, and it seems to be overlooked (people know Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, but not as much in between).

I'm glad you liked my comments Sera! I'm sure some people may have preferred a softer ending with Jane speaking from beyond-the-grave, but I think this one stayed true to Jane's real story and the novel itself.


message 6: by Kim (new)

Kim The ending by the executioner made the whole book for me. It just really brought it home how butal the whole story was. The lifting of her head by the hair just absolutely gave me goose pimples....it was gruesome but so memorable. I will never forget the ending...and like Sara..even though I knew the ending...I too was hoping something would happen to save poor Jane.


message 7: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Kim, I just read your comment, and thinking about that scene literally just gave me goose bumps right now as well! You are so right about him lifting up the head being memorable, and then for him to say "So perish all the Queen's enemies! Behold the head of a traitor!" It was gruesome, but so powerful to read especially since it was the last line of the book.


message 8: by Cat (new)

Cat | 7 comments This book was so incredible. I was absorbed by all of the characters and the changing perspectives added to the understanding of Jane's ordeal. But I feel as though you, Sara, were unfair in your perception of Frances. She ended up giving up both of her daughters to this cause and she ended up heart-broken and alone. This was so upsetting to her and even though she was always cruel to Jane she really did regret it in the end.

You were all right about the ending. I was almost in tears when the executioner held up her head. It was so emotional but I think that her last view of Guilford being lead away was also a huge moment for her. She was an incredibly strong girl who could even face down death thanks to her beliefs.

Alison Weir wrote an amazing novel and I can't wait to read her book about Henry.


message 9: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Well, I think some of my bias against Frances came from how she was portrayed in a different novel I read about Mary well before I read this book. In that book (which is fiction, granted, so certainly could be wrong), Frances begged and begged Mary for her husband's freedom but never lifted a finger to help Jane. I'll certainly agree that she ended up heart-broken and alone (although what happened to Katherine? I think Elizabeth ended up putting her in the tower for a while when she was Queen, but I'm not sure where Katherine ended up prior to that? Did Innocent Traitor give any indication?), but I still can't feel too bad for her because she brought it on herself (well, her husband did make it much worse at the end which Frances had nothing to do with, so that part is sad, although I feel more sad for Jane than Frances).


message 10: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments The section with the ruby necklace and the times when Jane reflected on and was horrified by the way Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn died just made me really sad because I knew what was coming. I wanted to yell, "Jane, Jane protect yourself! It's going to happen to you too!" I guess it's a little crazy wanting to warn a character/historical figure, but that was my reaction to those sections. I felt like I wanted to protect Jane somehow because I knew, in the end, that she would not be able to save herself.

I agree with Despina about how it seems strange to love such a sad book. I think it helped knowing what would happen in the end (which Weir set up for those not familiar with the story in her prologue). If I thought there was a possibility of a happy ending, I would keep hoping for a happy ending, and the actual ending would have been a horrible shock. At that point, it may have been difficult to say I loved the book (which would not be the book's fault - Weir can't change history). Since I knew the ending was unavoidable, I was able to appreciate more how Weir handled this sad story throughout the book.


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