MARY QUEEN OF SCOTLAND AND THE ISLES by Margaret George

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTLAND AND THE ISLES

Age Range: 1542 - 1587

KIRKUS REVIEW

 By the author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986), another vast involvement with a legendary royal. The Scots queen (1542-1587), crowned at nine months, shipped out for a French marriage at seven, became queen of France at 16 for a year and a half, then returned to Scotland after the death of the French king- -to four years of early triumph and then tragedy, two marriages, warfare, betrayal, power struggles, dazzling escapes, and, at the last, a flight to England--and doom. George has created a lively, gallant Mary of intelligence, charm, and terrible judgment--in outline true enough, and fictionally persuasive. Unlike cousin Elizabeth I of England, Mary enjoyed a richly cosseted and loving childhood and youth; arriving back in Scotland then--a Scotland bristling with religious ferment, plots, and a history of regencies--is a shock, at first bewildering, then exhilarating. But there are the trumpet blasts of Reformed Kirk theologian John Knox against a female ruler (and a Catholic to boot) and the obvious intent of the Queen's inner circle of lords to rule for her. There's also Mary's stubborn, disastrous choice of a husband--the ``blue and gold lad,'' Lord Darnley, soon slipped into drink and debauchery and even murder. Mary's second husband after Darnley's murder (George absolves Mary of a conscious plot) is the Earl of Bothwell, here given an unusually heroic cast. Throughout, there are astonishing escapes, nick-of-time rescues by Bothwell, fleeting interludes of lovers' joys--as well as betrayal, sieges, and abuse, sadly from the people who once cheered her (``the people...with all their pitchforks, fervous and bad breath...mutable...but stronger than granite''). At the last- -another truly terrible decision--Mary flees to Elizabeth I for sanctuary, and is imprisoned for 20 years while the dismayed English queen makes up her mind. With a seamless use of original letters, diaries, and poems: a popular, readable, inordinately moving tribute to a remarkable queen.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-08262-2
Page count: 752pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992




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