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Mary Queen Of Scotland And The Isles Paperback – 10 May 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330327909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330327909
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The best kind of historical novel, one the reader can't wait to get lost in." --"San Francisco Chronicle" "A massive, erudite, and entertaining novel that skillfully weaves historical fact and plausible fiction." --"New York Newsday" "George has creative a lively, gallant Mary of intelligence, charm and terrible judgment...A popular, readable, inordinately moving tribute to a remarkable queen." --"Kirkus Reviews "(starred) "A painstakingly researched novel that makes history live. The author's deep sympathy for her subject renders Mary an entirely real and unforgettable heroine." --"Publishers Weekly "(starred) "An evocative portrait."-"-The New York Times Book Review" "Dramatic...Romantic...George makes Mary a heroine to identify with because of her spirit, wit and charm...A triumph." -"-Houston Chronicle"

Book Description

An engrossing and painstakingly researched novel about an unforgettable heroine

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Mary, Queen of Scots, was the last Roman Catholic ruler of Scotland.
The tale of this beautiful woman, is one of the great tragedies of British history.
Margaret George, in this long book, brings Mary, and the Scotland, France and England of her time to life.
A sympathetic, but not idealistic portrayal of Mary as a woman who was warmhearted , loyal, brave, generous and spirited, but also unable to read character,volatile and impulsive.
The book takes us from Mary's birth, and her coronation as Queen of Scotland, when she was only a week old,she was shipped to France, for her own safety when she was six years old, together with her companions from early childhood , Mary Livingstone, Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton and Mary Seaton (the four Mary's).
Brought up in the French court , she was married to the Dauphin Francois at the age of 15, and widowed two years later.
She returned to Scotland, after the death of her husband , King Francois II, after his mother Catherine De Medici, made it clear she was no longer welcome in France.
Dealing with conniving Lords and officials , she was clearly outmanouvered at every turn. She was married to the worthless coward, Lord Darnley , who led a gang of conspirators ,into the palace and murdered her chief secretary David Riccio.
Later Darnley himself, died in myterious circumstances , for which George, in this volume, absolves Mary of any responsibility.
She then married her lover, the Earl of Bothwell , for which she lost the throne of Scotland. much due to the influence of the fiery Protestant preacher , John Knox, who nursed a vicious hatred of Mary.
She fled to England , where she was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth I , and after 20 years, was accused of plotting against Elizabeth, and executed.
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I had a bit of a difficult time getting into this book initially, as the first 100 pages break that Creative Writing 101 rule of not spending too long in the beginning describing a character's past and childhood, before getting to the main plot. I do understand that Margaret George wanted to write a full biographical novel of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the cradle to the grave as it were. However the section covering Mary's childhood probably should have been pared down. Instead, the first 100 pages spend too much time on Mary's childhood and are largely descriptive, featuring tell more than show, and contain a few clunky information dumps. We're told that Mary is an extremely accomplished student, but we're not shown it, presumably because the author doesn't have enough pages to spend on building this up through demonstrative scenes. If that is the case, why waste space telling instead of showing, in a somewhat awkwardly written litany of accomplishments? On one occasion the reader is told in narrative exactly what the implications are of Mary Tudor (aka "Bloody Mary", cousin of Mary Queen of Scots) coming to the throne of England and her choice of husband. The problem with it is that it's a passage that exists solely to tell the uninformed reader what is happening, whilst most of the historical figures would have understood the implications without needing to spell it out.

The writing in these first 100 pages or so isn't terrible as such, but it feels detached and succumbs too much to tell over show and info dumping, so I can well understand why some readers find this book difficult to get into. It shouldn't take 100 pages to get going. Thankfully, things start picking up as Mary returns to Scotland.
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Format: Paperback
Having read the Autobiography of King Henry VIII by Margaret George, I had high hopes for this, being fascinated by the story of Mary Queen of Scots, as most people are. I enjoyed the story very much, though it didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know. I thought the whole Bothwell thing was sort of glossed over to be honest, and was hoping for a more in-depth look at their relationship, and was surprised that the casket letters were mentioned in passing really. However, I thought the relationship (or lack of) betweeen Mary and Elizabeth was rivetting! I find it incredible that Elizabeth did nothing for so long, refusing to meet Mary, and letting her live even though she knew about the plots that she was involved in. Having said that, I appreciate that she could not condone the killing of a monarch, in case it gave any of her subjects an idea! Imprisoning Mary for all that time was in fact, more cruel than executing her, I feel. I know that the general feeling was that Mary sacrificed all for love, but did she really? She had no qualms about the killing of Darnley, she would not listen to advice, she was more than happy to take a married man as her lover, though she knew it could cost her the throne of Scotland, and her son, James. At times, I thought she made some horrendous mistakes, particularly when she decided to turn to Elizabeth for help instead of to France, where she had dower lands, and relations. Did she really expect help from Elizabeth after quartering the arms of England, and declaring herself Queen? She was either very naive, or very stupid. She did seem to blame everything but herself for her misfortunes, and at times I felt that I could have slapped her!! However, there is no doubt that hers was a very sad story, and she did have more than her fair share of grief.Read more ›
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