#Bookreview The Queen’s Mary by @sarahgristwood Mary Queen of Scots #Histfic

The Queen's Mary: In the Shadows of Power...The Queen’s Mary: In the Shadows of Power… by Sarah Gristwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three point five stars.

The Queen’s Mary is a historical novel about the life of Mary Queen of Scots told from the point of view of one of her close companions. Mary Seton was one of four Marys who served the queen, first as a childhood companion and later as a lady-in-waiting.

The girls joined Queen Mary just before she was sent to France by her mother. The four Marys spent time in a convent while Queen Mary was brought up in the royal nursery. Later they re-joined the queen at court.

Seton outlived Queen Mary by a quarter of a century, ending her days back in France. This story is told from several different points in her life, often using flashbacks from her memory.

The idea of using a minor figure to work a new spin on a well-documented historical figure is always an unusual and colourful idea. In this book, the author uses a range of styles to tell the story, interspersing them with known facts. However, I felt, at times, that the reader was asked to accept details that a serving lady may not have had access to, or known about at the time. Using Seton’s memories as triggers for particular events worked well, but sometimes the to-ing and fro-ing left me confused about which time zone we were in. The other aspect that worked less well was that the author chose a modern language style for much of the dialogue, adding gossip and asides to show Seton’s point of view, which seemed out of context and unconvincing alongside the era of the story.

Overall an interesting take on a famous queen, let down by the incongruous dialogue; this made it a ‘just okay’ read, for me.

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Book Description

Who would have thought it? That captivity could be liberty? That service could be freedom?
In 1548 four little girls, all called Mary, set sail from Scotland for France. Five years old, they are already primed for the work of their lifetime – to serve another little girl called Mary.
Mary, Queen of Scots.
Thirteen years later, the five return to an unwelcoming Scotland, and as Queen Mary struggles to take control of her turbulent country, her famous ‘Four Marys’ are at her side.
The queen finds herself set on the path of violence and disaster which will lead eventually to her tragic end. But what of the other four Marys, bound inexorably to their mistress’ fate?
Of the four, it is Mary Seton who serves the queen longest, and whose loyalty is most severely tested. Through a maze of shadows – of treachery and even witchcraft – how can she find her own way ahead?

About the author

Sarah Gristwood

Sarah Gristwood attended Oxford and then worked as a journalist specializing in the arts and women’s issues. She has contributed to The Times, Guardian, Independent, and Evening Standard.

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#Bookreview The Royal Road To Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy Mary Queen of Scots #HistFic #wwwblogs

The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) (Mary Stuart, #1)The Royal Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga, #1) by Jean Plaidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Royal Road To Fotheringay is a historical novel about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Not to be muddled with Mary Tudor, this book is about the life of a queen who took her title when she was just six days old.

Mary was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his wife Marie de Guise of France. Mary’s father was a Stuart and, although he had other children, it was Mary who was first in line for the throne. Mary’s mother became Regent, protecting her daughter from political and religious threats as she grew up.

Henry VIII wanted Mary to marry his son Edward, thus joining England and Scotland, but when Henry died, Mary’s mother feared the appointed Lord Protector of England. She sent six year old Mary to France, instead, where she became engaged to the young Dauphin. Brought up in the French court, Mary spent more than a dozen years on French soil under the guidance of her Catholic family.

After the Dauphin and Mary’s mother died, Mary was forced to return to Scotland. Here she found herself a pawn in an ever changing, dangerous game of political chess. Stuck between feuding lords, squabbling family and strong Protestant believers, led by John Knox, Mary struggled to rule a people who didn’t know her and had little faith in her actions.

This book gives the reader enthralling insight into Mary’s eventful life, where friend and foe were quick to change. There were many marriage talks, made to strengthen ties and shift power, and the young queen found the path to happiness very difficult.

I really enjoyed this book, the author paints the scenes vividly and makes you feel a part of the story. The dialogue and actions suited the era and the writing style made the book a pleasure to read. I knew very little about Mary Queen of Scots before I read this book, but I now feel I know her very well.

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Book Description

The haunting story of the beautiful–and tragic–Mary, Queen of Scots, as only legendary novelist Jean Plaidy could write it
Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at the tender age of six days old. Her French-born mother, the Queen Regent, knew immediately that the infant queen would be a vulnerable pawn in the power struggle between Scotland’s clans and nobles. So Mary was sent away from the land of her birth and raised in the sophisticated and glittering court of France. Unusually tall and slim, a writer of music and poetry, Mary was celebrated throughout Europe for her beauty and intellect. Married in her teens to the Dauphin Francois, she would become not only Queen of Scotland but Queen of France as well. But Mary’s happiness was short-lived. Her husband, always sickly, died after only two years on the throne, and there was no place for Mary in the court of the new king. At the age of twenty, she returned to Scotland, a place she barely knew.
Once home, the Queen of Scots discovered she was a stranger in her own country. She spoke only French and was a devout Catholic in a land of stern Presbyterians. Her nation was controlled by a quarrelsome group of lords, including her illegitimate half brother, the Earl of Moray, and by John Knox, a fire-and-brimstone Calvinist preacher, who denounced the young queen as a Papist and a whore. Mary eventually remarried, hoping to find a loving ally in the Scottish Lord Darnley. But Darnley proved violent and untrustworthy. When he died mysteriously, suspicion fell on Mary. In haste, she married Lord Bothwell, the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, a move that outraged all of Scotland. When her nobles rose against her, the disgraced Queen of Scots fled to England, hoping to be taken in by her cousin Elizabeth I. But Mary’s flight from Scotland led not to safety, but to Fotheringhay Castle…

About the author

Jean Plaidy

Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt (56 million) and Philippa Carr (3 million). Lesser known were the novels Hibbert published under her maiden name Eleanor Burford, or the pseudonyms of Elbur FordKathleen Kellow and Ellalice Tate.

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