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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

A Dangerous Inheritance - Alison Weir 'A Dangerous Inheritance' is a story with definite potential. Unfortunately, Weir uses it as a platform to once again state her case for Richard III as the murderer of the Princes in the Tower. Yes, the case is well made, but she already wrote that book, right? I would have enjoyed this novel much more if she had focused on the main characters of the book, Kate Plantagenet and Katherine Grey.

Weir's characterization of Kate Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of Richard III, is almost complete supposition as little is known of her life. Her great faith in her father and wanting to believe the best of him is certainly believable. Her relationship with her cousin John de la Pole was also touching and not too farfetched. The fact that most of her conversations centered on her attempting to discover the truth about the Princes in the Tower just got a little bit boring. I can accept that she would like to clear her father's name or know the truth for her own sake, but too much of this dialogue does nothing but inform the reader without coming across as realistic. The girl was a little obsessed, and I would have rather just learned about her.

The same holds true for Katherine Grey, sister to the doomed Jane Grey. For some reason this young woman with her own claim to the throne also becomes consumed with learning the truth about the Princes. Katherine's life story is one that is well documented, tragic, and gripping, so why detract from it with more unlikely dialogue just to keep the focus on the Princes? Katherine is a person that draws sympathy from the reader despite her foolishness and selfishness. She truly was dealt with harshly from a very young age and never given a reprieve.

Weir attempts to make a connection between these two young Katherines, who lived approximately 70 years apart, based on their commitment to discovering the truth about the Princes. Other interesting connections are made. Grey is arrested and held in the tower due to her royal blood, much as the Princes were. Both young women are torn from their true love (though historically we do not actually know that of KP). Weir tries to take the connection a step further by inserting paranormal connections between them. KG sees ghosts of KP and feels coldness and despair when trying on her pendant or entering a place where KP experienced trauma. Maybe others weren't bothered by these sections, but I like my historical fiction to be a little more, well...historical.

The first 100 pages or so of this novel feels too much like a rehash of things that Weir has already written between her 'Innocent Traitor,' 'Princes in the Tower,' and 'Lady Elizabeth,' and I almost gave up altogether when paranormal activity was added to my frustration over this. In the end, I am glad I persevered. The Katherines' stories are intriguing in their own right and could have been told without having to be overshadowed by the ghosts of little Edward and Richard.