Saturday, August 06, 2016

675 (2016 #30). Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles

by Margaret George

This is the last (so far; there will be a new book about Nero in March 2017) of Margaret George's immense historical fiction biographical novels I needed to read.  It took me about a month and a half to do so, as it is 870 pages long.

Like the subjects of her other books, Mary, Queen of Scots is another misunderstood and often disliked historical figure.  I really did not know that much about her before reading this book.  My other encounters with her were always from the English viewpoint.  George's Mary is much more sympathetic.

In a short afterword, George explains some of her assumptions about the key questions in Mary's life (concerning her third husband Bothwell, the death of her second husband Darnley, the Casket letters, and plots against Elizabeth I, her jailer for the last 20 years of Mary's short life).  There are different interpretations of these events, and they affect the portrayal of Mary.

I found most of the book to be quite interesting.  The third part (the last 200+ pages), covering her imprisonment, was the hardest to get through, mostly because there is not a lot happening - Mary gets moved from castle to castle, and that seems to be about it.

I would rank this book as better than George's Helen of Troy and Mary, Called Magdalene, but not as good as The Autobiography of Henry VIII, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I purchased this book some time ago at a Friends of the Library book sale.]

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