- Hardcover: 560 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (7 April 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618254110
- ISBN-13: 978-0618254118
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart Hardcover – Import, 7 Apr 2004
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Few royal figures from the pages of European history continue to fascinate historian and lay reader alike as much as Mary Stuart, the ill-fated queen of Scots, who has come down to us dressed in the raiment of legend. British historian Guy delves deeply into previously little-mined archival evidence, and, aided by a felicitous style (no drifting into dry lecturing), he arrives not at a whitewash but at a restoration of Queen Mary with respect to the truth about the quality of her character and her performance as monarch. The easiest and quickest way to judge Mary Stuart has always been to compare her to her cousin and fellow queen-sovereign Elizabeth Tudor. Guy, on the other hand, takes Mary on her own terms, seeing as "stereotype" the long-perpetuated concept that Mary "ruled from her heart" while Elizabeth "ruled from the head." Mary's is a complicated story, as were Scottish politics at the time, but Guy explicates the complications--including Mary's marriages, her struggle with the Scottish lords, the murder of her second husband, and her long incarceration and eventual execution in England--with both authority and clear illumination. A major biography. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Spirited and satisfying....Guy's account has all the twists and turns of a good thriller--and plenty of horror, too." -- ReviewSee all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I recently decided to re-read Fraser's book along with several other texts about Mary. After having done so, I have to say that I recommend this book hands down. Guy clearly empathizes with and is a fan of Mary Stuart (though this doesn't mean he's unwilling to point out her flaws), and what's more is that he endeavors to show that much of the story about Mary isn't quite correct. Many who have written about her seem to wish to have it both ways: they consider her to be a shrewd, plotting, calculating woman engaged in an affair while planning the downfall of her husband, yet simultaneously a less-than-astute woman wholly unfit to rule. The truth is somewhere in between, it seems. She made some shrewd decisions that demonstrated her adaptability and made many abysmal choices (particularly with regard to the men she trusted). She ruled with the heart at times---- but even my studies of Elizabeth I had long proven that she did so herself, as have many rulers male and female.
Most importantly, this work draws in additional study of Cecil's actions and, moving beyond mere conjecture, Guy is able to connect some dots with the casket letters proving that Cecil very clearly had an agenda against Mary, one he had enacted well before she even returned to Scotland, and one that had a heavy hand in her downfall. A final note for readers is that, while Cecil clearly does not come out looking positive (though arguably, what he did was to protect his vision of England; it's the sort of plotting many engaged in), Elizabeth I herself is not viewed particularly harshly. I've noticed that many readers share an interest in both women and often react very strongly when Elizabeth is viewed dimly in any work. This is not really the case here.
Guy's work is balanced, interesting, detail-rich and a pleasure to read start to finish. I highly recommend it even if you feel you've read almost all there is to read about Mary already.