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Lady in Waiting: A Novel

Lady in Waiting: A Novel

by Susan Meissner


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Love is a choice you make every day.

Content in her comfortable marriage of twenty-two years, Jane Lindsay never expected to watch her husband, Brad, pack his belongings and walk out the door of their Manhattan home. But when it happens, she feels powerless to stop him, or 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 influence over her life than she once imagined. It all comes down to the choices each makes despite the realities they face.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307458834
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/07/2010
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 8.54(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Bridge Across the Ocean, Secrets of a Charmed Life, A Fall of Marigolds, and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, among other novels. Visit her website at

Reading Group Guide

1. Did you find yourself drawn more to the story of modern-day Jane or long-ago Lady Jane? Why?

2. Why do you think Jane conditioned herself to defer to others when an important decision had to be made? Can you relate?

3. What have you learned about yourself or life or God when you’ve had to wait? Do you consider yourself a patient person?

4. A quote by the French philosopher Diderot is mentioned in chapter 3. “What has never been doubted has never been proven.” Do you think that is true? Do you think this quote holds any significance to Jane Lindsay?

5. Do you think it’s conceivable that Jane truly saw no signs that Brad was unhappy? Why or why not?

6. Does Jane Lindsay’s mother have any redeeming qualities? Is there anything about her personality that makes her  admirable? What about Lady Jane Grey’s mother?

7. What do you think Lucy Day’s strengths were? Why do you think she gave personality traits to the dresses in Jane’s wardrobe?

8. When Jane Lindsay’s mother has the clock fixed, Jane has a hard time thinking of it as the same clock. Is it the same clock? Do you approve of what her mother did? Would you have had the clock fixed? Why or why not? Why do you think some people are drawn to antiques?

9. In the end, Jane decides to stand by Brad during his crisis. What do you think of her decision?

10. If you had lived during the sixteenth century, would you have wanted to be a commoner, a noble, or a royal? Why?

11. Professor Claire Abbot tells Jane Lindsay that Lady Jane Grey was not entirely without choice; had she chosen to, she could’ve refused the crown and escaped to the North with the man she loved. What do you think of this suggestion? If Jane Grey had done something like this, how would it alter your opinion of her?

12. Where do you see Jane and Brad Lindsay in ten years? What do you think Jane Lindsay does with the ring?


1. Like your award-winning novel The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting weaves together a contemporary storyline and a historical storyline. Can you tell us a little about each of your heroines, these two characters named Jane, who play key roles in the present and past?

My present day 40-something Jane Lindsey manages an antique store in Manhattan so she's surrounded all day long with remnants of other peoples' pasts. When the story opens, her husband of 23 years has just taken a job in another state and to her shock he's asked her not to come with him. He tells her he wants time alone to decide whether or not he wants to be married anymore. As she enters this time of waiting - a time she didn't see coming - she begins to see that all of the important decisions in her life were made for her by other people, her parents and her husband especially - and that she let them do it.

While she's coming to this realization, she finds an old betrothal ring, engraved with her first name, hidden inside the binding a 17th century prayer book. But there's no sign that the ring was ever worn and this intrigues her. Jane begins a quest to find out who it belonged to and why it was hidden for 300-plus years. In time, she begins to believe it belonged to Lady Jane Grey. This second Jane, Jane Grey, is a true historical figure, and much like my present day Jane, most of Lady Jane's life-defining decisions were made for her by other people. At the age of sixteen she was named Queen of England by powerful men who did not want Princess Mary, Henry the Eighth's eldest and Catholic daughter, on the throne. These people who wanted Rome out of their rule and realm wanted someone on the throne whom they could control, and history surprisingly shows us they could not.

2. What did you find most interesting about Lady Jane Grey while researching this novel?

I have always been moved by the story of Lady Jane Grey. She's one of the lesser known Tudor queens and few people know her story because her reign was so short. In most of the biographies and novelizations I have read she is depicted as either a stoic martyr for the Protestant faith or a helpless pawn. I wanted to explore the notion that she was singularly neither but instead a young woman who had the same hopes and dreams as any teenage daughter of a duke in the seventeenth century. She wanted a happy life with love in it and to make her own choices about the things that mattered most to her. I knew going into it that Jane Grey's story didn't end well for her but that doesn't mean she didn't choose how her story would end. She did.

When my modern-day Jane comes to understand Lady Jane was not denied all avenues of choice, she realizes neither has she.

3. Your books are very popular with book clubs. How do you believe the themes of "waiting" and "choosing" resonate with women? How do these themes tie into our spiritual life?

I think book clubs are remarkably suited for helping people consider big life issues, especially for women, because we're known for being non-compartmentalizers - We tend to make sense of life by looking at all of it - all at once.

Most of us travel through life on a journey marked with starts and stops. And seasons of waiting - sometimes waiting for other people, sometimes waiting on God. We are constantly finding ourselves in valleys of decision. Sometimes we end up in hard places through no fault of own and our guilt or innocence regarding the situation doesn't change anything. We're still going to find ourselves in those places. We can't always choose our circumstances but we can always choose how we are going to respond to them. We are never completely without choice. Even when we're waiting.

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