The Nine Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey - by Cook, Faith
Carlisle, PA: EP Books USA, 2005. 249 pp.
Elna Mitchell, wife of TMS student Ryan Mitchell
I don't like history. There, I've said it. But I love reading and I do understand the importance of knowing church history. These two facts led me to pick Lady Jane Grey: Nine Day Queen of England from my husband's bookshelf. Far from boring outdated facts, I found it to be a well-researched, clearly written account of the young woman whose reign was the shortest in English history.
In this 250 page book, Faith Cook chronicles the life of one of England's most interesting queens. Lady Jane Grey was born into the Tudor family in 1537, 20 years after Erasmus first published the New Testament in Greek, thereby making God's Word available to laymen rather than only to priests. The Greek New Testament was critical in the start of the Reformation of the English church and the Reformation is the backdrop for the story of an extraordinary young woman. Faith Cook discusses not only Lady Jane's life but also includes chapters detailing the political and religious events surrounding her life. As these events unfold, we get to see God graciously opening a gifted young woman's eyes to the truth of Scripture and blessing her with a love for it that would sustain her even amid the darkest trials.
Mrs. Cook begins by reviewing the life and reign of King Henry VIII, his many wives and children and pointing out that his religious view varied depending on what was politically beneficial at the time. Over the next chapters, the author details events in Jane's childhood and introduces readers to key historical figures related to Lady Jane's story. But the climax of the story comes after King Henry VIII's death. There is much intrigue over who will be monarch of England with our heroine reluctantly accepting the crown upon the death of her cousin Edward, and soon after being imprisoned by her staunchly Catholic successor, Queen Mary. Lady Jane was repeatedly given the opportunity to lay aside her beliefs, but ...By her steadfast stand Queen Mary's young prisoner had forfeited all hope of reprieve. Lady Jane would now find a place among that long and noble register of martyrs of the Christian Church those who 'loved not their lives unto the death' choosing to suffer rather than to deny Christ. Without doubt she had 'kept the faith'" (188).
The author not only provides insight into the life of a young girl who honored God in her life and death, but she also succeeds in giving me a clearer understanding of the period of the Reformation and some of the political intrigue surrounding Lady Jane's life. These events, illuminated by Faith Cook's thorough research and excellent writing skill, are an evidence of the Lord's sovereignty in working all things to His glory.
The book's value lies in its challenge to us as believers to consider our own willingness to stand for the truth of God's Word. As the author stated, In days when absolute truth has become a casualty of our post-modern society, with its tolerance of everything except strong Christian convictions, the faith of Lady Jane Grey remains a challenge to us all. Her unswerving courage, even when the alternatives of life or death were set before her and depended upon the answers she gave, should not be forgotten" (10).