- Name: A Dangerous Inheritance
- Author: Alison Weir
- ISBN: 9780345535948
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
- Publication/Expected Publication: October 2, 2012
As an historian-in-training, I admit I approached this book somewhat warily, having been burned by historical fiction in the past. However, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Weir's blending of fiction with historical fact.
This book focuses on two women: Katherine Plantagenet (second wife of William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke) and Katherine Grey (Countess of Hertford and younger sister of the infamous Lady Jane Grey). Katherine Plantagenet is referred to as "Kate" throughout the book, and Katherine Grey is referred to as "Katherine." The author alternates chapters in the telling of these women's amazing stories, making it easy to see the parallels between their two lives.
Kate was the illegitimate daughter of Richard III, and very little is known about her historically. Assuming Kate was a devoted daughter, it seems reasonable that she would attempt to clear Richard III's name in the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. Much of her love story, both with her "true" forbidden love and her husband - the Earl of Lincoln and William Herbert, respectively - is tied to the search for her father's actual role in the young Princes' apparent demise.
History knows more about Katherine Grey since, after her sister's execution, she was next in line to the throne after Elizabeth I. After Katherine finds documents written by Kate, Katherine also becomes fascinated with the mystery of the Princes. Much of her story is dedicated to this quest, and she eventually finds the truth (or, at least, the truth as conveyed by this book). She also has a love story to tell - marrying the man she loves in secret and subsequently invoking the wrath of Elizabeth.
As someone who has admittedly focused more on the Tudors and less on the Plantagenets and Greys, I found this book fascinating and entertaining; however, I do not feel qualified to judge it on its historical accuracy. Ms. Weir provides a comprehensive author's note at the end of the book that details what events she took from fact and what was conjecture. In my opinion, the author's note was sufficient to put history buffs' mind at ease about the dramatic license Ms. Weir felt compelled to take.