Tuesday, March 16, 2010
She was a child crowned a queen.... A sinner hailed as a saint.... A lover denounced as a whore... A woman murdered for her dreams...
I've put off writing this review forever because the friggin' book took me forever to get through! Granted, I liked the beginning and was starting to get into this lengthy historical fic on Mary Queen of Scots (whom I knew almost nothing about beforehand) but then after about 20 odd hours and half way through I began to get a little tired of Mary. I was starting to realize that I just didn't really care about her all that much. She kept making such bad mistakes! Mary wailing that she's misunderstood and the Scots don't like her. Mary pining away for Darnley and then despising Darnley (I don't blame her for that though). Mary wishing Bothwell would come save her. Mary bemoaning the fact that she's stuck on an island and the Scottish lords hate her. Mary wringing her hands that the English despise her - and it's starting to look like Queen Elizabeth isn't fond of her either. By the end of the book, I was so sick and tired of Mary, Mary, Mary, I couldn't wait until Mary was executed and I could be done with her!
Sorry to all of you Mary Queen of Scots fans, but I just didn't have a whole lot of sympathy for her. To sum it up, I thought she was incredibly naive and let herself be overruled and dominated by every man she knew! The book overall was well written, but not nearly as entertaining as the other book of hers that I loved, The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers. Unfortunately so much of Mary's life was depressing, barely any high points once she returns to Scotland. Yes, her love affair with Bothwell was exciting for her, but so short lived and doomed from the start, they had such little time together, and as Bothwell reflects himself before becoming involved with her romantically, every man that loves Mary seems to die! How true! At least she had her faithful Marys (Flamina, Seton and Lusty) and her French doctor and priest who remained with her almost to the end. Everyone else died for her cause.
All in all, unless you are a die hard Mary Queen of Scots fan and can't get enough of her, this book is a long, long slog. It starts with Mary's birth to her execution, with every single little thing that happens to her. The gist of the book is, Mary was good and a devout Catholic. She did not want to hurt anyone or kill Elizabeth, but there was so much plotting going on around her, she was incapable of stopping it. She was a victim of plotters who were anti-Catholic and would go to any lengths to insure that Mary was out of the picture - for good. She was seen by the English as a threat to the English throne, and by the Scots she was looked on as a Frenchwoman who was unfaithful to her husband and then had him murdered by her lover. On audio, she sounded naive and perplexed - "why do they hate me so?" Despite Mary's simplistic and unrealistic attitude towards many of her problems, the narration by Donada Peters was excellent although it did not make me a fan of Mary Queen of Scots.
Sorry for my haranguing, but I was so sick of the book after listening to it, I could barely even bring myself to write this up right away - if at all. Compared to Henry VIII, this was a big disappointment, but I am at least glad I know her story now and background of what exactly happened to her and why she was accused of plotting to murder Queen Elizabeth and thus executed for it. It just became so dull and uninteresting towards the end. How many letters can you read about? Her piety began to grate on me and I felt sorrier for her faithful followers who all went to their deaths because of her, like the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Bothwell and Babington. A lot is conjecture in this book, as the author says in her afterward. Some things about Mary's motives and actions will never be completely understood, we'll probably never know the truth. But, the bottom line is, Mary made many, many bad decisions and alienated herself to all her lords and Scottish subjects, primarily due to her Catholicism, which is a pity. If only she'd stayed in France... oh well.