Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen with Prime Learn more Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars34
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£12.08+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 12 August 2012
Mary, Queen of the Scots is well-known for being the most charismatic and tragic monarch. There are quite a few biographers and historians who have described her life. I really have found John Guy's biography very meticulous and productive, and it really brought her life.

Having worked for the Public Record Office, John Guy has been given opportunities to search through various historic documents and original manuscripts and drawings. His findings included Mary Stewart's Latin essay which she produced in her teenagers and, which has still been displayed in one of the museums in Paris.

I agree that the murder of Rizzio changed Mary Stewart's life, and that she had to live in the constrained environment for 20 years. Having been a cousin and living as a ruler of England, it is quite understandable that Elizabeth I was frightened of Mary and her trying to gain the throne.

More importantly, many people seemed to feel scared of Mary, as a devout Catholic. In particular, Cecil Williams, who was Elizabeth's chief assistant was extremely vigilant of her activities and thoughts. John Guy reveals how Cecil Williams took opportunities of the incident of Rizzio's murder and Ridolf's plot and his crafty translations of the casket letters led her life to the total misery.

By the same token, John Guy discovers Mary's charismatic and forward going characters, which she demonstrated in the constrained period when an awful lot of people were simply against her. It is interesting to learn that she sent birthday presents to Elizabeth I not only hoping to get herself released but also thinking of her.

John Guy's findings are totally absorbing and engaging that keep readers reading. It is well-worth reading.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 October 2011
I was thoroughly impressed with this book. I feel it has something to offer everyone.
Whilst forensically trawling through the archives, Guy provides a staple for the academics whilst other parts of the book sometimes read like a historical novel, filled with drama, emotion and imbued with sympathy for its subject, Mary (especially since the starting point and backdrop of the book is her execution at Fotheringay Castle in 1587), all the while the whole book is readable and Guy has the knack of making us want to read on further.

Guy explores in fascinating detail, Mary's reign, her relationship with the near tribal factions of the Scottish Court, her Guise relatives, Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell and goes on to discuss the authenticity of the casket letters which were originally produced at trial to imply Mary's guilt in Darnley's murder.

Guy also very convincingly portrays Mary as a victim of Guise politics and demonstrates that Cecil was constantly at the forefront of events, undermining Elizabeth's attempts to unofficially acknowledge Mary as heiress by supporting Catherine Grey's claim and preparing the groundwork for Mary's eventual demise by attempting to coerce Elizabeth into honouring the Bond of Association.
There are two sides to every story of course as many biogrophies have revealed that Cecil was a zealous Protestant who was devoted to Queen and country and saw Mary as a genuine threat to domestic security; nevertheless, Guy aptly illustrates that these policies had dire consequences for Mary and rightly or wrongly, may have contributed to her eventually taking drastic action against Elizabeth, whom she had previously called "sister".

A lively and refreshing take on Mary. Guy is an eloquent storyteller and can convey complex historical information in a thoroughly accessible manner. Excellent, and thoroughly deserving of the five stars awarded.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 August 2012
A fantastic biography that radically reinterprets Mary Stuarts life. Based on solid and impressive research, John Guy is a master of the sources, and always tries to give Mary her own voice. I am stunned once again about how history treats women, as Mary's reputation was smeared in her own lifetime much like Anne Boleyn's. This book is fair and balanced, and whatever one's view of the subject, it cannot be denied that she was a remarkable women flaws and all.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 April 2015
Among the innumerable books about the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, this one stands out. John Guy is a serious historian but he writes with the fluency of the novelist combined with the historian's rigorous examination of the sources. Of course Mary's life reads like a novel - early years in the pampered French court, return to a turbulent Scotland where she makes a disastrous choice of husband in the dissolute Darnley, arranges to have him murdered and then marries one of the chief murderers i.e. Bothwell, which leads to her forced abdication in favour of her son, flight to England - and the inevitably tragic ending on the scaffold. The book treats Mary fairly, examining her good qualities such as loyalty and intelligence and while acknowledging her lack of judgement particularly in her marriages, reminds us that she was particularly unlucky given the faction riven Scotland she was thrown into plus the strong anti Catholic feeling in England which worked against her. A compelling read which is very difficult to put down.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 August 2013
This was a chance Oxfam purchase and really lives up to the early professional reviews. I have never read a biography or history book and was totally enthralled. Having recently enjoyed Hilary Mantel's Tudor novels, this was a really satisfying and fascinating insight into how a historian researches and brings to life the past. I am looking forward to visiting lots of the Scottish places associated with Mary again!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 March 2009
I'm not a big fan of biographies but I've always felt a curiosity towards Mary Stuart.
After reading the reviews, I decided to buy it and I'm really happy I did. It's not the typical history book, the way Mary's life is told really lets you get to know her and imagine how she saw things, how she felt and how she thought. Hers is a great and sad story and John Guy tells it as no one has done before.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 October 2004
You don't need to be a Queen Mary 'anorak', or indeed a fan, to enjoy this pacey, chronological investigation of her life, loves, mistakes, adventures, attitudes and untimely end.
This is a fascinating, in-depth analysis of both the life of the book's heroine and the intricate workings of monarchy, the Court and government of the time. Every person who had an influence on Mary's life, including one certain englishman who waged a lifelong campaign against Mary, on behalf of Elizabeth, his Queen, has his or her involvement detailed, producing a wonderful understanding of how her life unravelled and ended so early.
An easy recommendation for the non-historian but a must for those who claim to know the subject.
0Comment|17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 February 2014
This is not a novel but a biography of Mary Queen of Scots. It gives a detailed and unromantic view of her life. It allows the reader to see her as she was seen in her own time and not with a retrospective view tinged with romantic nostalgia. A lengthy read but worth it.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 October 2008
This book is fantastic. It is a factual thrill ride. The research behind it is second to none.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 December 2004
The Life of Mary Queen of Scots is a compelling read, whether you are after an historically accurate account of the life of this charismatic Queen, or you enjoy historical novels, this book delivers. Completely 'un-put-downable' this has been one of the very best books I have read this year.
I am willing to bet that no reader will be disapointed.
0Comment|17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)