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. The detailed description of her last moments was difficult to read such was my sympathy for the vital woman described by the author. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has even a passing interest in Mary, Queen of Scots. I have read many good books by Antonia Fraser but this one, to my mind, stands head and shoulders above the rest.