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Reviews for Mary Queen Of Scots:

5

Jun 23, 2019

A wonderful example of what research and excellent writing can do for history. The queen of Scotts was murdered by Elizabeth the first. She escaped Scotland following her grandmother's bid for power, as well as the new religious beliefs in the country.
Antonia Fraser gives us a look into the life of this fascinating woman as well as her captivity in England by Elizabeth.
This book is educational and easily read. Factually correct, the details of her suffering are most important.
This book is highly A wonderful example of what research and excellent writing can do for history. The queen of Scotts was murdered by Elizabeth the first. She escaped Scotland following her grandmother's bid for power, as well as the new religious beliefs in the country.
Antonia Fraser gives us a look into the life of this fascinating woman as well as her captivity in England by Elizabeth.
This book is educational and easily read. Factually correct, the details of her suffering are most important.
This book is highly recommended and a MUST READ! ...more
3

Jan 09, 2014

Ive never read a nonfiction book about Mary Stuart, and the last (and, I think, only) fiction book Ive read about her was back in elementary school, when I read her book from the Royal Diaries series. (I think it was called Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country or something like that, and I remember not liking it very much.) What I knew about her going into this book was taken almost entirely from Elizabeth-centric history books, which obviously dont always show Mary in the best light. I I’ve never read a nonfiction book about Mary Stuart, and the last (and, I think, only) fiction book I’ve read about her was back in elementary school, when I read her book from the Royal Diaries series. (I think it was called Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country or something like that, and I remember not liking it very much.) What I knew about her going into this book was taken almost entirely from Elizabeth-centric history books, which obviously don’t always show Mary in the best light. I’ve always been staunchly Team Elizabeth, but I decided it was time I gave Mary a fair shot. (confession a: I mostly decided to start reading this book now because I have become obsessed with the CW show Reign, which I will discuss further at the end of the review because oh my god, you guys, and confession b: I was tempted to write this review as a fourteen-year-old Reign fan who was OUTRAGED at all the things that were missing from the show. But I digress)

Mary Stuart is one of the sadder historical figures I’ve come across. She was a queen almost from birth, but had to be taken out of her home country after only a few years to avoid being killed. She was brought up in France, married a French prince, and felt more at home there than she ever did in Scotland (even later in life, she often signed her name as “Marie” instead of Mary). When her first husband died and she returned home, things went okay for a while, and Mary actually showed signs of being a competent ruler, and then everything went swiftly and horribly wrong. Her later life seems to be comprised of a series of grave errors in judgment (Bothwell, anyone?) that directly resulted in her being imprisoned for almost twenty years and then executed. She didn’t ever get a chance to really do anything on her own, and instead spent her life just reacting to what others did. A study of her life presents a lot of interesting what ifs: what if she and Elizabeth had actually been able to arrange a meeting early in their reigns, as Mary tried for years to arrange? What if she had displayed a little more common sense in her marriages to Darnely and Bothwell? What if, upon being forced to abdicate and flee Scotland, Mary had gone to France instead of (stupidly) blundering into Elizabeth’s territory? Unfortunately, there’s no way to answer any of these questions, but it’s at least interesting to consider how history would have been changed if Mary hadn’t had such terrible and consistent bad luck.

Fraser’s book does a good job of considering these what-if scenarios, and also proves that Mary had the potential to be a great ruler, possibly even greater than Elizabeth. The history is comprehensive, clear, detailed (she spends an entire chapter just examining the infamous Casket Letters), and balanced: she isn’t afraid to point out when Mary did something extremely reckless or stupid, and although she can be kind of a dick to Elizabeth, she does point out that there wasn’t much else the Queen of England could have done. Mary spent the majority of her life being fucked over by various people and circumstances, and ultimately she’s more interesting as a figure of speculation than an actual historical figure. The book is interesting; Mary, not so much.

Okay, let’s talk about Reign. Guys. GUYS. This is all real. Some genius at the CW decided that it would be an awesome idea to make a show about fifteen-year-old Mary’s life in France before she married Francis, and it’s basically if Gossip Girl did a Renaissance Faire episode after skimming a Tudor history book. There is, I shit you not, a completely made-up character named Sebastian (his nickname is Bash, I’m 100% serious) so we can have a love triangle; Mary’s four attendants have been renamed Kenna, Aiylee, Grier, and Lola; and there’s a whole subplot about murderous pagans who live in the woods outside the castle. In 16th-century France. It’s the best show I’ve ever seen and I hope it lasts ten seasons and you all need to watch it immediately. And I’m positive that I couldn’t enjoy its batshit disregard for historical fact nearly as much if I hadn’t just read this book. So in that respect, this was well worth the read
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5

Oct 22, 2011

I wont hiver-haver here: this is a wonderful book. From about page twenty onwards (it took a little while to get me into the swing of things) I was riveted. I arrived at page 691, on my third day of reading at 1.30 a.m., having been unable to put the volume down for the final three or four hours. As I lay in bed at the end of each day of reading, my mind returned to this astonishing woman, who was a Queen in the sixteenth century, and acquired mythic status. Which she deservedwhich indeed she I won’t hiver-haver here: this is a wonderful book. From about page twenty onwards (it took a little while to get me into the swing of things) I was riveted. I arrived at page 691, on my third day of reading at 1.30 a.m., having been unable to put the volume down for the final three or four hours. As I lay in bed at the end of each day of reading, my mind returned to this astonishing woman, who was a Queen in the sixteenth century, and acquired mythic status. Which she deserved—which indeed she deserved.

It seemed to me suddenly that the history plays of Shakespeare, the murders and plots, the naked power struggles I always thought exaggerated in drama, were hardly exaggerated at all: this was how it was. These brutal ‘nobles’ of sixteenth century Scotland, plotting like contemporary gangs to get the upper hand, to knife or be knifed. And Mary herself, brought up and educated in France—a woman culturally finer, and a nicer person—not, despite best efforts, equipped to deal with the brutality, the cunning of it all.

Antonia Fraser is fascinated by her: and yet one doesn't feel she is manipulating the evidence in the interests of intensifying heroic stature. She has a dry way of commenting which is very appealing. When Mary celebrates her disastrous marriage to Darnley—seduced by his youth, his good looks, his height—Fraser says simply of their first night in bed together: “It is to be hoped that Mary Stuart, who had sacrificed so much for this match, found at least this part of the ceremony to her satisfaction”.

How sad—how deep the irony—that she fell for Darnley because she nursed him while ill. She had a strong motherly streak—and he was young, and good-looking, and weak, and grateful, and well-born. And thoroughly silly and spoilt. It seems likely that the illness which gave rise to her infatuation was probably syphilis, presumably acquired during Darnley’s well-trumpeted life style. He was a horrible young man and he met an ignoble death, in nothing but a night-gown in the garden of the house where assassins had intended him to die in an explosion. He tried, and failed, to escape.

And Bothwell, who kidnapped and probably raped Mary herself, met a much more gruesome end, while Mary herself died magnificently, with phenomenal courage. Oh what a death! She was larger than life. She was amazing. And this book, which recreates the complex events leading up to the execution, in which Mary’s own son James could have—but chose not to—save her from death, is a wonderful piece of narration. My head is still buzzing from it.

“Remember”, she said to her ‘judges’ in October 1586, “that the theatre of the world is wider than the realm of England.” And so it is, and so it is.
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4

Oct 20, 2008

I have to admit that before reading this, I mainly knew Mary Queen of Scots from the film Elizabeth, where she was presented in a minor part as a sensual French Catholic traitor prolonging a bloody war with England.
In actuality, her story is almost more fascinating than that of Elizabeth, her cousin: Mary serves as Queen of France until her husband the King dies, when they're both barely 20. She returns to Scotland as Queen. But Scotland is still very medieval, plus it's protestant and she's I have to admit that before reading this, I mainly knew Mary Queen of Scots from the film Elizabeth, where she was presented in a minor part as a sensual French Catholic traitor prolonging a bloody war with England.
In actuality, her story is almost more fascinating than that of Elizabeth, her cousin: Mary serves as Queen of France until her husband the King dies, when they're both barely 20. She returns to Scotland as Queen. But Scotland is still very medieval, plus it's protestant and she's Catholic, which pits her against many of the ruling nobles, even though she shows herself to be tolerant of her Protestant subjects.
Her undoing is her private life: Her second husband is murdered leaving her a widow again, and more importantly to those seeking power, single and free to remarry. One of her advisers takes advantage of this, kidnapping her (probably with her knowledge) and then to ensure she will marry him and make him king, he rapes her. This all leads to her removal from the Scottish throne and eventual imprisonment and beheading.
And those are just the cliff notes.
This is my second Antonia Fraser book and now i see her pattern as a historian who's out to clear the name, or at least explain, some of the most hated/misunderstood women in history. In both books, she puts herself on the side of the queen, explaining their actions, defending them from some of their harshest critics, though she also does acknowledge their faults.
But it seems necessary. Mary's problems during her reign of Scotland can be attributed as much to the fact that she was a woman as that she was Catholic.
It's fascinating to think about Mary, a ruling women in the 16th century whose marriages proved her undoing and led to her beheading, versus Elizabeth, who ruled in the same time but never married (never sharing her power) and had a far more successful reign that ended in natural death. Obviously, there were many other factors at play - they were very different women. Mary is more trusting, Elizabeth more guarded. Mary was a Catholic in a Protestant land, whereas Elizabeth shared the religion of her subjects. But still, it shows the vulnerabilities of being a female ruler during a time when marriage, not elections, was the key to gaining power.
One of Fraser's greatest strengths is how she delves into who these women were so that they become three-dimensional and so that it's more like reading a novel than a history book. Mary read, not romances like Marie Antionette, but history books, Greek and Latin classics. She had long beautiful fingers, long auburn hair or sometimes wigs.
One of the most compelling parts was the section where Fraser described Mary's last night before being beheaded. It's as if we're in the room with Mary as she's deciding who should get what of hers, waiting to see what she will do in her last few hours. And we see how in the end she transforms herself from merely a wronged queen into a stoic Catholic martyr.
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4

Aug 17, 2007

Remember that time you thought your closest cousin was trying to have you assassinated and you thought it might be a good idea to execute her (after wrongfully imprisoning her for nineteen years)? Don't bother, 'cause you're going to die childless and her son is going to take over your throne, thus ensuring the survival of her line--not yours--for at least thirteen generations.

That's what I got out of this book. Oh, and also that rebel lords aren't nearly so fun as they sound.
3

Apr 30, 2008

I hesitate recommending this book because the writing is often dull and the author has an annoying habit of placing latin and french quotes without a translation. But in the end I do recommend this book because the story of Mary Queen of Scots tragic life is compelling. Twice a Queen, first of France than of Scotland. Mary was almost six foot tall in an age when five feet for woman was average. Beautiful, athletic, pampered, intelligent, naive and a magnet for misfortune. Her first husband died I hesitate recommending this book because the writing is often dull and the author has an annoying habit of placing latin and french quotes without a translation. But in the end I do recommend this book because the story of Mary Queen of Scots tragic life is compelling. Twice a Queen, first of France than of Scotland. Mary was almost six foot tall in an age when five feet for woman was average. Beautiful, athletic, pampered, intelligent, naive and a magnet for misfortune. Her first husband died soon after becoming king. Mary goes to Scotland where she marries a rake who murders one of Mary's courtiers before her eyes while she is pregnant with her son the future James I. Her husband is later murdered and then a Scottish warlord rapes Mary Sicilian style as part of foreplay to wed her. The scottish nobles revolt once again. She flees Scotland seeking the protection of her cousin Queen Elizabeth who imprisons her for twenty years before beheading her. She dies with dignity after defending herself brilliantly in her trial.

Before she died, Mary said the history of England is awash with blood. ...more
3

Jun 04, 2016

I am very much interested in Mary's story, but haven't studied any history of the period since I was at secondary school. I chose to read Fraser's account of hers because she is so well revered; I thought that if anyone could present her tale in a fascinating and memorable way, it would be her. Alas, I have a few issues with the book. Mary Queen of Scots held my attention for the first 150 pages or so, but I felt as though it shifted after that point, losing some of its initial sparkle. Fraser's I am very much interested in Mary's story, but haven't studied any history of the period since I was at secondary school. I chose to read Fraser's account of hers because she is so well revered; I thought that if anyone could present her tale in a fascinating and memorable way, it would be her. Alas, I have a few issues with the book. Mary Queen of Scots held my attention for the first 150 pages or so, but I felt as though it shifted after that point, losing some of its initial sparkle. Fraser's effort is also a little protracted; it would have been better, and far more successful, had it been presented in a book of half this size. As it is, Mary Queen of Scots (book, not person - although she did stand at the height of five foot eleven...) was rather a behemoth.

The entirety is very repetitive; there is so much emphasis placed upon the (frankly largely unimportant) details of Mary's appearance and height, and the reiteration of such things feels unnecessary. Fraser's writing is not bad, but given her stature as a biographical historian, I had expected that it would be far tighter, better structured, and more expansive. Much of the vocabulary is used again and again, sometimes in the same sentence. The book could have been riveting - indeed, I thought it would be after reading the witty and amusing introduction - but it felt flat.

I would like to pick up another Fraser in future to see how it compares, but I shouldn't think I will be doing so for quite some time. After all, the wrist ache needs to subside first... ...more
4

Aug 23, 2011

1969 - that sounds about right. I used to stare at it on the high shelf in K-Mart's very limited section of books during our weekly shopping. It was such a leap from what the World Book Encyclopedia had to offer. Mary, so regal- and Antonia on the back cover, so equally regal and so sexy. No one ever seemed to buy it and the copy became shopworn (was that from me?)... and then one day there was a paperback edition on a low shelf and I saved my pocket money and bought it. It was dense with words, 1969 - that sounds about right. I used to stare at it on the high shelf in K-Mart's very limited section of books during our weekly shopping. It was such a leap from what the World Book Encyclopedia had to offer. Mary, so regal- and Antonia on the back cover, so equally regal and so sexy. No one ever seemed to buy it and the copy became shopworn (was that from me?)... and then one day there was a paperback edition on a low shelf and I saved my pocket money and bought it. It was dense with words, a thick book that needed a dictionary for me to read along and it had my first footnotes. I spent a summer imbibing it and reciting the old poem "Mary, Queen O' Scots" (Go ; think of it in silence and alone ;
Then weigh against a grain of sand the glories of a throne.) I hadn't yet heard Sandy Denny's "Fotheringhay" of this same period.

I may still have that paperback somewhere - it still gives a thrill. And that reminds me now that I am old I want to read this: My History: A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser. ...more
4

Feb 17, 2010

This tome represents an impressive amount of research--too much if one expects a quick and easy read. While the portrayal is sympathetic, the picture which emerges of Queen Mary is not very positive. She was, as might be expected, spoiled, selfish and adolescent, certainly not one who might have been competent as an autocrat unless shepherded by ministers. As it was, she was poorly guided, both by her supposed allies and by her own unregulated desires. I was reminded of the late Princess of This tome represents an impressive amount of research--too much if one expects a quick and easy read. While the portrayal is sympathetic, the picture which emerges of Queen Mary is not very positive. She was, as might be expected, spoiled, selfish and adolescent, certainly not one who might have been competent as an autocrat unless shepherded by ministers. As it was, she was poorly guided, both by her supposed allies and by her own unregulated desires. I was reminded of the late Princess of Wales, another sad figure unequal to her role.

Of course, when one thinks of the roles such as Mary and Diana were expected to fulfill, one wonders if, in comparison, those who do well fill them aren't the real monsters. If taken out of the inflated context, both of these women were actually rather normal and it is to this that Fraser is sympathetic. ...more
0

Mar 06, 2009

I want to read this because I want to answer the question, 'Why is everyone so fascinated by this damn woman??'. I've never liked her. I've always thought she was stupid, petty, petulant and self-indulgent. I pity her, but I've never respected her in the least. She seems to have some rabid fans. I'm curious as to why. Perhaps Fraser, whose voice I really like in her stories of Henry VIII's wives, will be able to explain it to me.
4

Aug 10, 2015

One of the best biographies on Mary, Queen of Scots. It is well researched and detailed; you don't have to be a history buff to enjoy this book. Fraser's writing style is very good, she keeps you hooked from the start. I do have some minor criticisms, one of them is how she presents Mary at tragic moments in her life. I felt like she was romanticizing her there. Other than this however, the book was great. I highly recommend it.
3

Jan 15, 2016

A sad biography of the Queen of Scots. I have given this book three stars though my enjoyment was edging towards two stars. This is my second book of Antonia Fraser and I much prefer The Wives of Henry VIII. My interest lagged even though I love Fraser's writing style, I never felt pulled into this sad account of the misunderstood queen of Scots. I plan on reading her other books and I hope that I can enjoy them much more than I had of this one.
4

Sep 07, 2010

This was the first book about Mary Queen of Scots that wasn't boring. I still think Mary was an idiot but the book was good.
3

Oct 14, 2013

A heavy read for sure...it's definitely not for bedtime as one has to be focused and attentive in order to grasp the history...also a basic knowledge of British history would not do harm in reading this book, as is perhaps the norm when reading such biographies. The story of this sad, unfortunate queen is of great interest to all lovers of history. It is riddled with tragedies and injustices and while reading one perhaps asks himself how much more this queen could have endured especially during A heavy read for sure...it's definitely not for bedtime as one has to be focused and attentive in order to grasp the history...also a basic knowledge of British history would not do harm in reading this book, as is perhaps the norm when reading such biographies. The story of this sad, unfortunate queen is of great interest to all lovers of history. It is riddled with tragedies and injustices and while reading one perhaps asks himself how much more this queen could have endured especially during her very long confinement in an English prison, being driven from one English castle to another. What I did not particularly care for and the reason for my 3 star not 4 rating, is the very intricate detail that is present in the book. I do understand the difficulty Fraser must have had to cut details and keep the sense of the story, but at times I felt certain information did merit a boring stance to the read. A good and very interesting biography nonetheless, especially for the history lover out there. ...more
5

Oct 29, 2013

Mary is cast in a very understandable and sympathetic light. The author does a marvelous job of showing Marys intelligence, courage, queenly bearing, and strength, while also including her education, style, travels, appointments, involvement in games and sports, her reading, political stances, her choice of clothes and jewelry, and motivations in her choice of husbands. Mary is brought thoroughly to life by the authors skill in portraying the historic woman and equally the feminine woman, the Mary is cast in a very understandable and sympathetic light. The author does a marvelous job of showing Mary’s intelligence, courage, queenly bearing, and strength, while also including her education, style, travels, appointments, involvement in games and sports, her reading, political stances, her choice of clothes and jewelry, and motivations in her choice of husbands. Mary is brought thoroughly to life by the author’s skill in portraying the historic woman and equally the feminine woman, the young highly-educated daughter and wife.

The author is outstanding in the research depth under-girding this book, and yet she does not flaunt the scholarship, or overburden the reader with her erudition. Still, the author covers this short life in great depth, requiring 555 pages supported by useful relevant illustrations and charts of the families involved in the Scottish and English throne successions of the 15th to 17th centuries.
What might have become a book overwhelming in nature, perhaps tedious and stultifying, has in Fraser’s hands become a picture of a many-sided rich life given absorbingly in a rapid pace. The pace gracefully carries the reader along through the varied trials and tribulations of royalty.

Through the entire story there is the strong ever-present religious background, the severe contest of Protestantism versus Catholicism during the years of the Reformation, when countries and thrones are won and lost over religious stringencies and freedoms. In the broadest terms, the religious conflicts of these ages is positively overwhelming. They destroy people and tragically build prejudice of monumental proportions. Mary, Queen of Scots is shown in rich absorbing detail to be a classic case. ...more
4

Jun 06, 2019

This review can also be found on my blog!

I did a buddy read with the ever lovely Jaynie, who I read Elizabeth I with earlier this year!

And, this was really good. At times, it was pretty dull because it felt bogged down by details I didnt need to know names, family history, etc. but most of the time it was interesting. I think it picked up speed after her second marriage to Darnley because that was when everything kind of went downhill for her.

One thing that came up when Jaynie and I discussed This review can also be found on my blog!

I did a buddy read with the ever lovely Jaynie, who I read Elizabeth I with earlier this year!

And, this was really good. At times, it was pretty dull because it felt bogged down by details I didn’t need to know — names, family history, etc. — but most of the time it was interesting. I think it picked up speed after her second marriage to Darnley because that was when everything kind of went downhill for her.

One thing that came up when Jaynie and I discussed the book was Mary’s childhood and how, in a way, it was a disadvantage to her. She had a relatively stable childhood in France, removed from the people she would eventually govern. Scheming wasn’t her forte, although she did it throughout her life. She led with her heart and was an action person rather than hanging back to see how things played out. She didn’t exactly keep herself out of plotting or find a way to be able to deny it.

Very different than Elizabeth, her rival. Elizabeth had a very unstable childhood. She knew the players at the court in and out. She always found a way to keep her hands off of scheming so she didn’t get in trouble for it. And when she did get caught, she was able to get out of it eventually.

It’s hard not to compare the two women. Queens around the same time, same dynasty and family ties, both very ambitious. Yet, they were very different people and Mary’s upbringing was a deficit to her. She was a foreign queen in the end. Very different than the people she was meant to govern. She was basically French and she had a different religion than most of the people and she seemed to think more of her own passions than of what something would do to the people.

Their lasting image is also very different. Elizabeth is seen as very apt and smart while, in most of what I’ve read, Mary comes off looking like an idiot. I’ve read a fiction book about her and she really was an idiot. Yet, the movie that came out last year, which has the same name as this book (different source material, though — they used John Guy’s book, which I also plan on reading) made her look like a genius.

Fraser definitely came down in the middle of both those extremes. I loved how balanced the biography was. She showed Mary’s flaws and strengths, most of which go hand in hand. Fraser definitely knew her stuff about Mary. She cared about her subject but was as unbiased as she could be on the topic. In short, I really enjoyed this biography. It was good and an enjoyable read. ...more
4

Jan 21, 2019

I read this (gasp) thirty years ago in high school and decided to revisit it after seeing the Mary Queen of Scots movie this year. I was really pleased with how well it holds up! Meticulously detailed, so you have to really commit to understanding the finer points of Scottish history, but well-written. And it's hard to be bored when there are so many moments that feel like they were ripped from a modern soap opera.
3

Dec 30, 2008

Well I have finally finished this book; it only took me 28 days (that was pure sarcasm by the way).

Lets start off with all the positives about this book.

Antonia Fraser loves detail and it comes through, she really does her research and that definitely impressed me. I learned things about Mary Queen of Scots that I probably would have never thought to look up, but was nice to know, the subtleties which really bring a character from history to life. Not to mention I enjoyed learning of all the Well I have finally finished this book; it only took me 28 days (that was pure sarcasm by the way).

Let’s start off with all the positives about this book.

Antonia Fraser loves detail and it comes through, she really does her research and that definitely impressed me. I learned things about Mary Queen of Scots that I probably would have never thought to look up, but was nice to know, the subtleties which really bring a character from history to life. Not to mention I enjoyed learning of all the horrible things people did back then and didn’t seem to think there was a problem with it. Like pickling people and putting them in a barrel after you’ve killed them, yuck. The quartering of people after they have been condemned to death! The way they would treat a corpse after someone has been executed. I just could not understand how these people thought about these things and that was kind of fascinating to me. I like to know what makes people tick.

Also I really loved how neutral Antonia Fraser stayed in the writing of this book. She was not pro Mary or Elizabeth which sometimes we all get sucked into. She just enjoyed telling the history we get to see Mary’s strengths and weaknesses along with her faults. We also get to see the relationship her and Elizabeth had and the thinking that went into Elizabeth finally signing the execution warrant. It’s not all as simple as you would think. These were definitely two very strong women of their time, and there was a lot of corruption and plots that went on around them. Very sad!

This book is so detailed that we start of in the very beginning, a quick overview of her parents and then Mary is born. From there we follow her to France, her schooling and all the way through to her death at the very end. I enjoyed that Antonia Fraser set it up in to chapters. Each chapter represents an important stage in her life.

Now the things I didn’t enjoy, which leave me to only give the book three stars.

Antonia Fraser is so focused on giving us all the facts which leaves the book very dry and begging for more of a story to excite us, especially since the book is close to 700 pages.

The book took me 28 days to read as I found myself constantly falling asleep on the couch after getting about 15 pages read, this was very frustrating.

I got very frustrated with all the French and Latin quotes and the fact that there was not always a translation for them. I hate to break it to you Antonia but we don’t all speak French or Latin. A translation would have been nice, especially when they were occasionally scattered throughout the book, why not translate all of them?

The one pet peeve I had in the beginning of the story was the amount of times we had to read a description of Mary’s looks and how beautiful she was. Then we learn about a new character and once again back to Mary’s looks. I get it already after the fifth time I’m done. I could paint her bloody portrait by mind now, is that what you were aiming for?

I will give Antonia Fraser a chance to redeem herself as I do love how factual she is, I just hope that she has learned to tell more of a story since 1969 when this book was first released.
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5

Mar 30, 2019

Reading this book in the beginning was a huge challenge because there were too many names and I felt my brain capacity was limited then. But thanks to my deep passion for historical stories, I persevered and made a reader's decision to just read the names along and not to be too bogged down about who is who in the early parts. The only important characters to remember are Mary Stuart, Mary Guise, King James IV, King Francis II, Mary Queen of Scots mother in-law, uncles from her mother's side and Reading this book in the beginning was a huge challenge because there were too many names and I felt my brain capacity was limited then. But thanks to my deep passion for historical stories, I persevered and made a reader's decision to just read the names along and not to be too bogged down about who is who in the early parts. The only important characters to remember are Mary Stuart, Mary Guise, King James IV, King Francis II, Mary Queen of Scots mother in-law, uncles from her mother's side and of course, Thomas Cromwell.
As a read on and on about this Queen, I felt I was journeying personally with her. She was definitely a lady way ahead of her time whose leadership qualities were seen as a weakness by the nobles back then. And the nobles themselves are described as an uncivilised, selfish, cunning and cruel bunch of people. It's a great eye opener book on how the Middle Ages were back then.
If I travelled back in time and had the opportunity to meet Queen Mary herself, I would seriously slap her to wake up and not to trust Queen Elizabeth 1. This is the one thing I disliked about Mary but then again, I can't really blame her because although she was of royal stature, she had no proper guidance on thinking strategically. She had a good heart but that was also her weakness which led her to trust too easily.
I actually mourned as I was reading the final chapters of her life. And this is one book that encouraged me to Google the castles that were mentioned just to glimpse how they looked like where once this remarkable lady was present.
I will never forget what Mary said towards the end of her life: "My ending is my beginning". What a bulls eye remark. Her amazing story still has the capacity to stir the hearts of today's era, post more than 500 years later. ...more
5

Jul 08, 2011

Magnificent. Detailed historical drama of Mary Queen of Scots. Gripping story of a brave woman who had to endure an end sentence in death and who, ultimately, lived in squalid surroundings. The last few pages were dear and touching ~ particularly disheartening and tragic.

I loved reading this book. The writing was so vivid as to become aware and to share the joys and tragedies of Mary Queen of Scots.

~Charlotte Liebel
3

Nov 21, 2017

The 30 year old paperback copy I read had folios falling out as I went. Towards the end, I threw each page into the trash once completed.

3.5 stars. This was dry as dust and hard to get into for the first couple of chapters, but once it gets going, you can't set it down. It's hard to believe any of this actually happened, and yet here we are. Fraser sifted every particle of Mary's story. It's easy to see why no other book on Mary has come up to this standard.
4

May 07, 2018

I have been reading strong women classics since after college when it was a choice. And a good one. Everyone should know the history of those who came before us. Mary Q of S!! So compelling. Bravo Antonia Fraser!
5

May 24, 2009

So far I like the way Antonia Fraser goes about things...brisk but factual, leaving you with the impression that she really has done her research. We'll see if it lasts!
5

Jul 22, 2009

I love reading books about English history. Antonia Fraser is one of my favorite authors. If you like English history, you'll like this book.
5

Nov 12, 2014

A second read of the wonderful biography by Ms Fraser. Still a terrific read.

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