As I read Susan Meissner’s Lady in Waiting, I was reminded of my love for historical fiction. Susan Meissner weaves together two separate story lines in a captivating way that left me eager to read more. Lady in Waiting is the story of a modern day Jane (whose husband has recently moved out due to his “need for space”) and how she comes to be linked to the story of sixteenth century’s Jane Grey, a woman who is fifth in line to the throne after Henry the VIII.
Lady Jane Grey is a very real historical figure. While I didn’t know much about Lady Jane going into this novel, its completion left me wanting to know more. Perhaps most captivating about her was her ability to stand firm in the midst of a life-altering ultimatum. Of course, amongst the historical fact is a great deal of conjecture, given that this is a work of fiction, yet the conjecture is wonderful as it focuses on a possible romance between Lady Jane and another historical figure. You’ll have to read the book to find out who as well as which ultimatum she is given!
The ring comes into play based on this speculative romance, and it is this ring that helps the contemporary Jane Lindsay work through the upheaval of her life when her husband walks out after 22 years of marriage. The ring keeps Jane from becoming exceedingly depressed and inwardly drawn, as it gives her something to do– a mystery to solve.
Lady Jane’s story is told from the perspective of Lucy Day, her lady-in-waiting in the book. Lucy’s own life story and romance are also woven throughout the pages of this novel, and serve to enrich the overall message of the book.
And what is that message? Overall, Lady in Waiting focuses on our ability to choose in the face of all circumstances. It is a reminder that there is always a choice to be made, even in the most dire of situations. For Jane Lindsay, the choices before her range from fighting depression, seeking help, to letting her husband go, to fighting for her marriage. For Lady Jane Grey, confined by the religious and political climate of her time, her choices, however limited in many respects, include risking it all for love, doing what is expected, turning her back on her faith, or standing firm and risk losing everything.
Both Janes are exceedingly relatable and both are inspiring. Fiction, especially that which include love stories, may sometimes be considered by some to be more frivolous than its literary counterparts, but Lady in Waiting does not fall into this category. It was thought-provoking, encouraging and is absolutely worth a read. It would be especially great to read for a book club or a women’s small group.
*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.