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Mary Queen Of Scots [Paperback]

Lady Antonia Fraser
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2009

Mary Queen of Scots passed her childhood in France and married the Dauphin to become Queen of France at the age of sixteen. Widowed less than two years later, she returned to Scotland as Queen after an absence of thirteen years.

Her life then entered its best known phase: the early struggles with John Knox, and the unruly Scottish nobility; the fatal marriage to Darnley and his mysterious death; her marriage to Bothwell, the chief suspect, that led directly to her long English captivity at the hands of Queen Elizabeth; the poignant and extraordinary story of her long imprisonment that ended with the labyrinthine Babington plot to free her, and her execution at the age of forty-four.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753826542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753826546
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


In this classic, very readable biography, now available in a new edition, Antonia Fraser does full justice to a fascinating woman. (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

More books have been written about Mary, Queen of Scots than almost any other being, yet few have matched Fraser's for elegance, sophistication and soul. (Rosemary Goring HERALD)

Mary's tragic told with authority and compassion. (CHOICE)

The poignant descriptions of her long imprisonment are both moving and detailed and reveal just why the book became an international bestseller. (HUDDERSFIELD DAILY EXAMINER)

Book Description

Antonia Fraser's bestselling biography of one of the most romantic and controversial figures in British history - a special 40th anniversary edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Biography I've Ever Read 7 Feb 2004
I have been fascinated by Mary, Queen of Scots, since I first heard about her in a history lesson when I was about 9 years old. I was very shocked by the fact that she was executed, partly because she was a queen and partly because she was a woman. I felt that her fate was so unfair and have never come across anything to change that vivid first impression.
I loved this book about her. Antonia Fraser really brings her subject to life, truly a 3 dimensional portrait painted in words. This book is so full of detail, none of which feels unnecessary. There is no skipping bits because they are dull and/or irrelevant. I also got the impression that Antonia Fraser liked her subject, that she too had at some time felt distressed that this woman met such a horrible end, the culmination of a life spent largely in captivity. The author does a splendid job of conveying the frustration of Mary's position as a "guest" of Queen Elizabeth I.
This book is interesting and well-written. I find that even the most interesting history books and/or biographies often have dry sections that I skim but that wasn't the case at all with this particular book. There are long discussions of the moral and political issues surrounding Mary's captivity but they are written in such a way that they engage the reader. In some ways the author had a head start, given the subject matter. Even the bare bones of Mary's story are interesting but Antonia Fraser has certainly doen her subject justice.
I think this is one of the best historical biographies I have ever read. The subject comes alive and almost jumps out of the book. By the end of this book I felt like I had known Mary all my life and overall my impression of her was favourable.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive and exhausting 10 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Fantastic amount of information. How did she manage to put it all together in the 1960s, before the days of word processors? But it's not an easy read, because the politics of Mary's time were complicated and it's hard to tell one of the Protestant lords from another if you don't know something about the period before you start. She does manage to bring Mary to life, though, without doing too much of the 'Mary must have thought...' or 'It probably occurred to her', which is the downfall of lesser biographers. I like the way she gets faintly exasperated by her heroine without ever falling out of sympathy with her. It makes a change from so many biographers nowadays, who devote themselves to debunking their subjects. All in all, very impressive.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The extraodinary life of an extraordinary woman. 24 Jan 2002
Antonia Fraser tackles the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, in this excellent biography. Written originally in the late sixties this book details every twist and turn in the fateful Queens life. Not only does it give step by step accounts of those famous episodes in Mary's life - her 3 marriages, 2 widowhoods, incarceration by Elizabeth I and execution - but it gives the reader an insight into Mary herself. After reading this book I feel that I know a lot more about Mary's personal thoughts and what exactly made her the person she was. This is mainly in part to the excellent research by the author but the way this is brought into an easily readable script makes this book compelling without being too heavy as some big historical biographies can be. I honestly cannot believe that any other biography on Mary would better this one and for that reason alone recoomend it to anyone interested in her life. However even if, as I did, you thought you knew her story I would still recommend the book as it is a cracking good story, kept at a good pace throughout that it reads like an historical novel.
There are plenty of pictures to aid the text (although a map would of been a plus - to show locations of some the events in her life) and I learnt that Crichton castle, near where my brother used to live, has a part to play in her story which surprised me.
A must read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A very detailed yet sympathetic (for the reader) book. It offers a great deal of information while refusing to be bogged down in description. It moves away from the simply scandalous view of Mary's life to show a much more understanding (but still detailed) view of her life. And it's easy to read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving magificent completely absording a joy 10 April 2001
By A Customer
This book is a masterpiece of scholarly work, it is also one of the most moving and compelling books I have ever read. Antonia Fraser takes you to the heart of Mary, Queen of Scots and into the heart of darkness which is 16th century intrigue. This book brings history to life and you cannot fail to be stirred as the tragic and romantic tale is unfolded. History presented and written straight from the heart, read this book and take it straight to your heart. I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Mary Queen of Scots is an iconic figure, a life full of romance and tragedy whose shadow still falls across us today. The rallying point for English revolutionaries, at the centre of conspiracies whether she knew of them or not, imprisoned for much of her life, hers is a fascinating story. Over the centuries many myths have grown up around her and it is often difficult to discern the truth from the myth.

This is Antonia Fraser's first book, and it is a masterpiece. Even at this early stage in her career she shows the two qualities which make her my favourite historian to read - her thoroughness of research and her beautiful writing style.

Fraser appears to have read every single available document, been to every relevant location and talked to every relevant historian in writing this book. It is comprehensive to say the least. Evidence is carefully weighed and discussed, and a picture of Mary the person and her true story begins to emerge. As well as discussing just Mary herself, Fraser takes the time to start the book off with a précis of her family history and sets the scene of the situation Mary was born into - politically and social.

The book necessarily contains a huge `cast' of characters. Fraser has a knack of writing pen portraits of each that makes the person stick in the mind. The history of each person is briefly discussed so as to give the reader a idea of their relevance to the story. It is so clearly and well written that it is easy to follow, despite the complexity of the events being described and the vast array of people populating the story. It is a rare gift, and one that Fraser uses to great advantage in all of her books that I have read to date.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy to read historical account of Mary Queen of Scots.
I enjoyed this book. I have read a lot of Tudor books and as this is about the same time I found it interesting.
Published 1 month ago by Misty
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best biography of our tragic queen
I read this when it first came out.

I re-read it before going to the Mary Queen of Scots exhibition in Edinburgh last year. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Forthwatchers
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable history
I loved this book which took me some time to read, however it gave a real insight into the history of the time and dispelled a lot of myths.
Published 2 months ago by ange555
5.0 out of 5 stars Jnteresting easy history
Very interesting to understand the background to the life of this well known but at the same time not very well known woman.Easy to read and not too "heavy"
Published 6 months ago by Non tech Gran
3.0 out of 5 stars good
The book was in good conditions. Just a little foul-smelling (smoke & dust). I had to keep it out in the fresh air for at least one week.
Published 7 months ago by Giovanna Locatelli
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary, Queen of Scots
This monumental biography is obligatory reading for those interested in this unfortunate Queen. A fascinating glimpse into the politics of the 16th c. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr. J. Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
it was very informative I thoroughly enjoyed it I AM STILL READING IT the best book ive read about Mary Queen of Scots
Published 9 months ago by Thelms
5.0 out of 5 stars MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Excellenly written, well researched and very easy to read. Although I do think Antonia Fraser was biased for Mary and very anti Elizabeth who was placed in a very difficult... Read more
Published 9 months ago by siptah
4.0 out of 5 stars My feedback on this book
Very informative and easy to read, the author has done her research very well. Due to my love of history, I ordered this book and am enjoying reading it.
Published 11 months ago by MRS LINDA A SWIFT
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
Really well researched and I believe an accurate account of events at that time...Excellent...
Gives Mary Queen of Scots a voice.
Published 12 months ago by Ms Catherine Loban
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