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96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing else left to read on the subject.
There is an accepted way that Mary's life story usually goes; Sent to France, spoilt, married the heir and became queen, husband died, mother-in-law hated her, moved back to Scotland as Queen, did ok for a bit, fell in love with Darnley, killed him and ran off with one of her co-conspirators in his murder, Scotland rebelled, chased her into England where she was captured...
Published on 1 April 2005 by Robert James

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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A history lesson
This is great if you want factual info but I was looking more for a book that is written like a novel. If you just want to read her history then it is the book for you.
Published on 19 Mar 2010 by Nutrigal


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96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing else left to read on the subject., 1 April 2005
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
There is an accepted way that Mary's life story usually goes; Sent to France, spoilt, married the heir and became queen, husband died, mother-in-law hated her, moved back to Scotland as Queen, did ok for a bit, fell in love with Darnley, killed him and ran off with one of her co-conspirators in his murder, Scotland rebelled, chased her into England where she was captured by Elizabeth and then executed many years later for plotting Elizabeth's death.
A fascinating story however it's told, but you're often left wondering how this woman could be so stupid.
John Guy's riveting book does more than just shed light on the rumours and misinformation that has always surrounded this most intriguing of Queens; he re-writes history. But this is no bad thing. He doesn't re-write it to fit some jumped up theory of his but through exhaustive research and analysis he blows all other biographies of Mary out of the water.
Whenever I'd read about Mary before I'd always wondered how someone so obviously intelligent could start so well and finish so badly. She was undoubtedly spoilt and far more flighty and romantic than the focussed, driven and politically-minded Elizabeth. But this was never enough to explain the incomprehensible blunders she appeared to make, time and time again.
John Guy explains these 'blunders' so well that you begin to understand they were not blunders at all, merely a woman in a difficult situation doing the best she could while being pulled between factions and manipulated.
If there is one criticism I would direct at John Guy it would be that he has taken all the mystery away from her story. There is no more to debate, no more to speculate on. It is all laid out here so clearly and convincingly it's left nothing more to read about her.
Mary is no doubt looking down with a smile on her face and sighing 'Finally!'
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hugely impressive piece of research., 14 Feb 2007
By 
K. Garden (Lockerbie, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
Although the title makes you think of a romantic novel, this is a robust and intricate examination of Mary's life. She comes across as a sensitive, passionate, moderate woman who tried to deal with the powerful religious and political factions in her country and find a middle way in her dealings with them. The way she fell victim to the power-politics of her time is truly tragic. Film-makers could not invent such a dramatic, involving and complex story. This is miles better than fiction.

I did the tour of Holyrood Palace while I was reading this biography and to visit her rooms where Rizzio was murdered and see the stairway his body was bundled down, was really moving and awe-inspiring.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mary treated fairly, 18 Jan 2004
By A Customer
I find this book fascinating- it is a blend of huge scholarship and excellent storytelling. It makes sense of complicated events without losing sight of the fragile human personalities caught up in the events of the period - the explanation of the type of society in which Mary found herself is clear, very interesting and quite exciting - lots of details which bring the story alive and makes it immediate- and Mary herself now makes sense to me- flawed, yes, but brave and remarkably astute for her age. It is a real page turner- exciting history, even if you thought you had read it all - you have not, yet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most enthralling and emotional historical book i have read yet!!, 30 Jan 2009
By 
Scott Jarvis (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
I first found this book in my public library and found the topic of Mary a very interesting one.Right from the beginning the emotion comes across from the execution of Mary.This is one of the only books in which i get a sense of the emotions which must have been felt at the times.In the end i couldnt help but feel that Mary really was treated terribly and her life story should never have been so tragic. I feel her main problem was the fact that she let her heart rule her head and she was to trusting. This was her undoing

This book is incredible and i wouuld reccommend it to any reader of historical novels and it is the best that i have read to date.For a book to convey such emotion really says something about it. A definite 5 star book. Well done John Guy.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Mary!, 12 Aug 2004
By 
Dennis Phillips "The Book Friar" (Bulls Gap, Tennessee USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
Mary Stuart was to the manor born, if indeed anyone ever was. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland and the great-granddaughter of Henry VII of England. She was raised in the Royal Court of France and was married at sixteen to the heir to the French Throne. Mary's father had died a few days after her birth and she had actually been Queen of Scotland since that time. Her realm was governed however by a regent who was for most of that time Mary's mother, Mary of Guise. The Guise family was a rich and powerful French family and they used young Mary to their advantage whenever they could. This misuse by her mother's family was just to be the beginning of a long series of betrayals that would finally end in Mary's execution.
John Guy has undertaken a huge task with this biography. The well-ingrained image of Mary Queen of Scots is one of a manipulative siren or of a Queen who was well out of her depth or both. Guy has examined many documents that have never been considered before and has reached an entirely different conclusion. In every way she was the equal of her cousin Elizabeth I, and in many ways her better. Mary's problem was that her Kingdom had been divided up by clan loyalties for years and the squabbles among the nobles made for an unruly Kingdom. Add to this the recent arrival of the Reformation in Scotland, and the further division it caused and the situation Mary faced on her return to Scotland was an almost hopeless one. Not phased in the least, Mary jumped right in and even her detractors had to admit that she was doing well. Even the rather unpleasant John Knox had to admit that the Catholic Queen did not lack courage.
Mary's also faced the problem that Scotland was so small and weak. That fact gave her very little leverage when bargaining abroad or with her cousin to the south. Then of course there was William Cecil, Elizabeth's Secretary of State, who hated Mary with a blind passion. Many Catholics in Europe, including many in England didn't recognize Elizabeth as the legitimate Queen of England, but instead looked to her cousin, the Queen of Scots. For that reason and his raging Protestantism Cecil decided that Mary had to go. And he went to extraordinary lengths to see that she did go.
Guy argues quite clearly that most of the charges that were leveled at Mary by rebel lords of Scotland were trumped up. Supported only by forged and doctored documents. The author is very convincing in his argument that Mary had nothing to do with the death of her second husband Lord Darnley and that in fact her accusers were the guilty parties. In all, Mary seems to have been caught up in events that simply were too much for anyone to handle. She seems to have made the right decision most of the time but with her own lords out to steal her throne and with William Cecil at work in London she simply had no chance.
Her only real guilt came near the end of her life when she did indeed conspire to remove Elizabeth from the English Throne. This conspiracy was more of an act of desperation than anything else, for she had languished in English custody for years. Day catches the sense of desperation Mary must have felt and the reader will understand why she acted thus. Day in fact does an excellent job of catching the spirit of the times as well as the spirit of Mary. Reading this book, one will see how often Mary was wronged while she was trying desperately to do the right thing. The author's thesis is that Mary was not only wronged in her own time, but has been badly wronged by history. In my opinion, he makes his point and it is well taken. After reading this wonderfully well-written book I don't think I will ever think of Mary Queen of Scots in the same way. She had her flaws, but she was indeed an impressive woman.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Nov 2008
By 
Sunglasses - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
This is a fascinating, superbly researched book that that takes you to the very heart of Mary Queen of Scots' life. The quality of the writing ensures a story from history is a compelling read.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book!, 8 Feb 2004
By A Customer
I am more used to reading detective fiction than biographies or serious works on history, but I found this book totally gripping yet also intellectually satisfying because the author has been very careful to critivcally analyse all the available information and present it with great clarity. The author has adopted a consistent style of relatively short sentences and relatively short chapters which made the book easy reading. There are also very interesting photographs and useful maps. Afetr finishing the engaging narrative it was interesting to look at the 33 pages of Notes where the author gives the basis for opinions expressed, and which makes the book also a great work of scholarship.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shedding Light on Semi-Darkness, 9 Jan 2013
By 
Mr. David M. Gostyn (Eastbourne, Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Other reviewers seem to think the same, and I am not sure I am saying anything new, but my enthusiasm for the book was so great that I just felt I had to write something.

Almost anyone with minimal knowldge of British history knows something about Mary Queen of Scots; they also know quite a bit about Queen Elizabeth and her senior minister Cecil, later Lord Burleigh. Yet this book manages to shed a great deal more light on these important people than even experts would have known before reading it.

The outline is, of course, well known. Queen of Scotland only days after her birth, off to France at the age of 6 to marry the heir to that kingdom, queen of France and then dowager queen almost immediately. Back to Scotland to marry a second husband who then murders a senior advisor of hers before being himself murdered. Then a struggle with the Scottish nobles which Mary comprehensively loses, a foolish third marriage, then flight to England where she spends years as a prisoner before being beheaded for her part in a plot against Elizabeth.

For starters, Guy gives Mary's life a narrative that makes sense of the various individual strands. If I may digress for a minute, I have a post-graduate history degree and almost gave up my studies on day 1 when I started to read the first book that my new tutor gave me to read. It was exactly what I most feared, almost indigestible with intellectual argument where the author's intellect is given a much higher priority than book clarity. Luckily later books were much better and after the first week I was never again tempted to give up. Indeed I could recommend some of the books I read then as enthusiastically as I can recommend this book on Mary. Academic history books can be a good read, but often aren't.

If a good narrative were the only strength of this book I would still have enormously enjoyed reading it, but would not be giving it 5 stars. What makes the book great is a combination of the detailed analysis of some of the more contentious facts, and the insight the book gives on the relationship between Cecil and Elizabeth, showing how strongly they differed on how best to treat Mary, not just after the Babbington plot, but pretty well from the moment she returns to Scotland after the death of her first husband. It also contains some little nuggets of trivia that I feel the better for knowing. I now know that a well know nursery rhyme is based on Mary, and one of Shakespeare's best known characters is a parody on Cecil.

OK I did not know either of those little nuggets. More important, I also did not know that there is strong reason to believe that Mary was completely innocent of the murder of Darnley. Most histories suggest that she was at least in some way involved; he was such a bastard that even if she was completely guilty most people today would be reluctant to criticise her, but at the time her presumed involvement was an unspeakable crime. I also did not realise that Cecil was so fanatically Protestant that he fought tooth and nail to prevent Elizabeth from establishing a good relationship with Mary (as well as being fellow queens, they were, after all also first cousins once removed). The ladies in fact never met. But they certainly would have done had Elizabeth's (and Mary's) wishes not been thwarted by Cecil.

One small criticsm. At the point where Darnley has just been murdered, Guy interrupts his narrative with some chapters analysing the various accounts by interested parties. A serious academic book would have been seriously incomplete without this analysis; they are needed to argue Mary's innocence or guilt. But it does interrupt the flow of the narrative, and perhaps that analysis could have been hived off to an appendix. But that is a very small criticism, and I dare say that other readers are happier with the analysis in line. It certainly does not detract from my overall statement that this book is a first class piece of history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forensic and scholarly!, 1 Sep 2011
By 
Mr. N. R. Partridge "Neil" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
I have to say that i was looking more for a biographical book rather than a mixture of biography & the forensic examination of events in Mary's life. That said it is an important tomb of work. Thoroughly researched. I shall read it again one day. Though i found the latter part of the book began to get a little too bogged down in details, to the detriment of the story.
For example, I had to read the Casket letter chapters a few times to better comprehend them, and found the examination of facts intriguing though a little muddled; partly due to the fact that the letters themselves were quite muddled. I still do not think i gained more than the basic points raised in these chapters!!! Though i felt these chapters could have written with an easier flow than how they are presented here.After i had got my head around these two chapters, i had to forgotten a lot of what i had read before, hence wishing to re read this book again some day, when i shall not get so sidetracked by the latter chapters as much as i did on my first reading.
100% for the authors knowledge and examination of the facts. 75% for the authors ability to portray thee facts with an easily digestible flow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best factual history books you will ever read, 26 Oct 2008
This review is from: My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. It is a factual thrill ride. The research behind it is second to none.
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My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots
My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy (Paperback - 2 Aug 2004)
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