Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Lady in Waiting
by Susan Meissner
2010 Waterbrook Press
Softcover Edition: 340 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-45883-4
Genre: Fiction
Source: Local Library

4 / 5 Stars

Content in her comfortable marriage of twenty-two years, Jane Lindsay had never expected to watch her husband, rad, pack his belongings and walk out the door of their Manhattan home. But when it happens, she feels powerless to stop him and the course of events that follow Brad’s departure.

Jane finds an old ring in a box of relics from a British jumble sale and discovers a Latin inscription in the band along with just one recognizable word: Jane. Feeling an instant connection to the mysterious ring bearing her namesake, Jane begins a journey to learn more about the ring—and perhaps about herself.

In the sixteenth-century, Lucy Day becomes the dressmaker to Lady Jane Grey, an innocent young woman whose fate seems to be controlled by a dangerous political and religious climate, one threatening to deny her true love and pursuit of her own interests.

As the stories of both Janes dovetail through the journey of one ring, it becomes clear that each woman has far more infl uence over her life than she once imagined. It all comes down to the choices each makes despite the realities they face.

My Thoughts
I have always been a fan of fiction novels that can weave an historical thread throughout the novel, but still keep the present moving along without interruption or unforgiving breaks in the flow of the story.  Susan Meissner's Lady in Waiting is able to flow back and forth effortlessly from the sixteenth century to modern day without interrupting the flow of the story or creating huge headaches for the reader.  I enjoyed this novel from start to finish, enjoying the sense of suspense and intrigue that built throughout.

The present day Jane finds a ring tucked into a sixteenth-century prayer book and immediately feels a connection with it, especially when she discovers her name inscribed in the ring.  She is going through her own problems as her own husband recently walked out on her, and her story is one of self-reflection and growth, and the realization that she has always has choices in her life, that no one has ever forced her to make the decisions she has made in life.  I enjoyed taking Jane's road to self-discovery and watching her grow and develop self-worth and it made me reflect on my own life as well.  I had been showing "The Bucket List" to my class at this same time and I couldn't help but feel the connection between this novel and the movie and as Jane started making her own list of things to do in her life, so did I.  It was certainly rejuvenating.

The sixteenth-century Lady Jane Grey has a tragic story, but I found myself looking at her decisions and choices in a new light in this novel.  I had always looked upon her as being a tragic pawn in a big chess game, but Ms. Meissner reminds us that everyone has choices and Jane made her choices as well, despite her limitations and the seeming control of everyone around her.  It's so easy to blame everyone else for our problems and situations, but we only have to look at ourselves for everything that is created.  Jane certainly had other choices, and I definitely admire her tenacity and her faith.  She had to be someone special to inspire loyalty in those around her. 

I also really enjoyed the interaction between the Janes and their mothers.  It was interesting to note the different relationships and to be truly thankful for my own mother.  I sometimes felt that modern-day Jane needed to be more forceful with her mother, but was forced to rethink certain things in light of events and how they played out.  I wish I could say more, but I would give away some spoilers and I don't want to do that.  Suffice it to say that maybe we need to remember that everyone has a history and a story and we should never judge one another too harshly, especially our mothers. 

Lucy Day, the seamstress to Lady Jane Grey, was a breath of fresh air.  She was loyal, strong, and a good friend, providing a shoulder for Jane to cry on when things became difficult or uncertain.  Because she was around many of the gentry, she was able to help Jane make informed decisions about what she should do about certain situations, always encouraging her to be true to herself.  I liked that she never told Jane what to do, which would have earned her reprimands anyways, but remained loyal despite everything.  I also liked how the novel showed how women and men could be independent and find other work if they did not like where they were working.  Too often, novels focus mainly on the gentry and forget about the commoners, but I liked how this novel focused equally on both.  I would have actually liked to have learned more. 

Lady in Waiting was an interesting novel, suspenseful at times, and definitely full of intrigues, especially if you do not know the history of Lady Jane Grey.  It touched me personally on many levels, causing me to reflect on my own marriage and on my own life.  I am definitely looking forward to reading another novel by this author in the future.


  1. Oooh, I really like the idea of a book highlighting Jane Grey's story through the eyes of her seamstress. I'm adding this to my tbr list!

  2. WHat a unique read, I need to check it out!