Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Lady in WaitingTitle: LADY IN WAITING
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-45883-4
Genre: Inspirational/part historical, part contemporary/women’s fiction

This book takes on two different stories and different aspects of love. Lady Jane Gray is a real historical figure who entered the English court around the time King Henry VIII had a wife outlive him, Katherine Parr. The events of this time period have always fascinated me. The story told is that Henry, unhappy with Catherine of Aragon's inability to produce a male heir, requested a divorce from Rome in order to marry the bewitching Anne Boleyn. Rome said no so Henry started a protestant faith, the Church of England then his wives kept dying on him. Some with his help, others not so much. Henry sires 3 children; Mary, a devout Catholic and later known as Bloody Mary, Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen who ruled Britain for decades, and Edward, a sickly son who died in his mid teens.

As I study more of these events and the Catholic church in Britain at this time, along with reformists' ideas floating around, I am more of the opinion that Henry was a Reformist long before he actually became the head of the Church of England. Rome's rigid stand on divorce was the excuse he needed to practice his beliefs. Just my two cents.

To be royalty in any country at this time was dangerous and left marriage options in the hands of the powerful or those seeking increased power. This was the case with Lady Jane. Lady Jane was simply a victim of circumstances and a pawn used to secure the crown. Her life and death marked with tragedy. Or was it?

Although Lady Jane married a man she did not love, her dressmaker, Lucy, married of her own volition a man of her choice. She enjoyed growing older with him, having children, and struggling to make ends meet. At Jane's coronation, Lucy wisely is dismissed from court and stays far from it as the drama of power plays out; Mary's turn holding the crown, her death, and finally Queen Elizabeth.

So what does this have to do with the protagonist in today's Manhattan?

Jane Lindsay finds a ring in the binding of book she acquires from Cardiff, Wales. Inscribed is her name and prose from Songs of Solomon. The ring becomes more relevant to her as she finds herself separated from her husband, a circumstance she does not choose. Brad, her husband, announced he was leaving for a different job in a different state closer to their only son, now in college and she was not invited to come. And so she waits as she has done all her life, until someone else makes decisions for her. Like Lady Jane, she is a victim of her circumstances. But is she, really?

The contemporary story was compelling and relevant. A younger woman may not understand the undercurrents and the quiet decisions Jane makes or the anticlimactic ending to the book. At the risk of revealing more than I should, this is the perfect book for a wife who watches her husband in the throes of a mid life crisis and feels helpless as her future is uncertain and feels dictated by his decisions.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Solid writing talent. Quiet, yet amazing insight. Beautiful symbolism.


1 comment:

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

Off to add to my wishlist right now.