Friday, March 27, 2015

Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles

Mary Queen Of Scotland And The IslesMary Queen Of Scotland And The Isles by Margaret George
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, that was a slog. It took me months to finish this book, for several reasons: one, I never really connected with Mary as a person; two, the behavior of the Protestants toward her was just so despicable, I hated to spend time reading about all their plots and machinations to dethrone her; three, I knew how it would end, so there was no suspense to motivate me to read to the end. Despite these obstacles I finally finished it. I think I deserve some sort of medal - this was harder to read than War and Peace!

Let's address a couple of my difficulties, first the character of Mary. I expected that this book would draw me in to the characters and make me care about them, like Philippa Gregory's books. Sadly, I did not connect with Mary until the very end, when she was imprisoned by the English, after seeking asylum there. Up until that point, the book seemed to simply relate all of the events that happened to here (and a lot happens), without any personal or emotional sense. Once she was imprisoned, she seemed to be more human, and certainly more sympathetic. The last few pages leading up to her execution were extremely powerful. I would have liked to have had some of that personal connection earlier in the book, but I didn't.

The other thing that made it difficult for me to read this book was what the Protestants said and did. Now, I'm not a Catholic, and probably have some bias against Catholics (that whole Inquisition thing...), but the behavior of the Scottish Protestants was beneath contempt. The libel and slander were despicable, and their opposition to her was based solely on her religion. At least, publicly - as with all political opposition, it probably had to do with money and power, but they cloaked it in religious terms to get the backing of the general population. It was really quite hard to spend time with these horrible men. I kept having to put down the book because it would make me sick to think of how they treated her. I suppose the author should be commended for getting some sort of emotional response from me, when the rest of the book left me rather cold, but an emotion that makes you want to put the book down is probably not what the author hoped for.

All this being said, the book was certainly thorough. I learned much Mary Stewart that I didn't know. The author clearly did an excellent job on research. But somehow, all those details just didn't add up to an exciting book. It was mildly interesting, from a historical perspective, and only my love of learning kept me reading to the end. Overall, I was very disappointed in this book.

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