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Mary Queen of Scots Paperback – September 1, 1993

3.9 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A book that will leave few readers unmoved.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“She was sometimes reviled as a scheming whore, sometimes revered as a misunderstood martyr. But she was invariably regarded as fascinating. Antonia Fraser’s richly readable biography demonstrates that Mary’s great fascination continues unabated.”

“One of the most fascinating figures in history.”
The Columbus Dispatch

“Compassionate, illuminating, rich in human interest.”
The New York Times

“With grace, sensitivity and a sharp eye for detail, Lady Antonia Fraser has succeeded not only in recapturing the real Mary from the symbol but also in illuminating the chaotic age in which she lived.”

From the Inside Flap

Author of Marie Antoinette
She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.
Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion that would lead to abduction, rape and even murder. Betrayed by those she most trusted, she would be lured into a deadly game of power, only to lose to her envious and unforgiving cousin, Elizabeth I.
Here is her story, a queen who lost a throne for love, a monarch pampered and adored even as she was led to her beheading, the unforgettable woman who became a legend for all time.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (September 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038531129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385311298
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Countess Chocula VINE VOICE on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It probably is unfair to compare the writing styles of Fraser and her counterpart, Alison Weir, but having just read what seems like a mountain of books by both of them, I can't help but do so and find Fraser ahead on some points, behind on others.
Fraser has a methodical style wherein each sentence is so cram-packed with detail that her books probably improve on their second or third readings. She takes a comprehensive, relatively non-biased look at her subject here and provides an interesting biography of a woman who has been characterized as everything from a near saint to a scheming, treasonous viper who deserved her eventual beheading. While Weir seems to take the position that Elizabeth I was some beloved angel who eventually had to sully her hands and cut off the head of her cousin for national security, I think the truth is somewhere else, as does Fraser.
In terms of historical accuracy, I think Fraser probably has the edge over Weir, notwithstanding both authors' impeccable research. Weir allows story to take precedence over fact, something that doesn't seem to happen as much with Fraser.
Which brings me to my list of quibbles with this book. Fraser may write factually, but in doing so, she comes thisclose to having written a book every bit as dry as the ones I steered clear of in school. It was torture to get through some of the passages and I put the book down more than once, not to pick it up again for days. I wasn't compelled to finish the book and find out the rest of the story the way I was with Weir's.
My second issue was with all of the passages in untranslated languages, French primarily. A few years ago, I'd say I spoke French fluently, but even I had to look up some of the phrases here.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Queen of Scots is rarely discussed by historians in a dispassionate tone. Either they love her or they hate her. Antonia Frasier is VERY fond of her subject. While she makes good use of sources, she has an annoying habit of blowing off the sources that describe Mary as anything but a delightful, misunderstood monarch who was ahead of her time. This goes for everything from her involvement in the Darnley murder to her looks (god forbid someone say she was anything less than drop dead gorgeous). In some cases explaining away remarks as prejudiced is understandable, but often it is not.
Criticism aside, Frasier delievers a rich narrative of the life of Mary, including her life in France before her personal rule, a side of the queen we rarely hear about. She also displays an impressive understanding of the Scottish court and the Elizabeth's England's relationship to Scotland. She manages to keep her ponderings about Mary's private feelings to a minimum. Although there is some attempts to explain Mary's psychological state, its only done when absolutely needed (after all, if you're reading this there's going to be times when you're mind is screaming "why?" when you read over some of the yutz stuff Mary seems to do).
All in all, "Mary Queen of Scots" is a good read and more importantly, good history.
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Format: Paperback
If somewhat dry. And there is an overwhelming amount of detail. Occasionally one gets confused as to the identity of the sources, why they were chosen, why their particular view of an event was chosen over another, or if another source wrote about the same event at all. Fraser, relies heavily on "Throckmorton," Elizabeth's ambassador in Paris, and on the Venetian ambassador. Since it is a cousin of the first who is eventually implicated in the ultimate Marian plot against Elizabeth, it would have been nice if Fraser had elaborated on the perspectives of her sources. There is some very factual clearing up of misconceptions here though. That Elizabeth and Mary never met during all the years of Mary's incarceration quite shocked me. The historical facts of Mary and Bothwell's relationship are explained, though the actual tenor of it is not ventured upon. Fraser's disparagement of the casket letters, which were used to convict Mary of complicity in the death of Darnley, her second husband, is quite convincing. She makes an excellent case that, whatever the original content, Walsingham and Cecil doctored the heck out of them. And there are poignant details, such as Mary's jurors wearing riding boots on the second day of her trial, indicating that the trial was in form only. I don't find Fraser particularly biased in favor of Mary though she obviously thinks well of her subject. A little more detail on Riccio and Darnley would have been nice, considering the vital role they played in Mary's expulsion from the Scottish throne.
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Format: Paperback
Most famous for her beauty and horrific execution the history of her life is compelling litany of betrayal and tragic mistakes. For anyone interested in the period this is defiantly a must read. However there one issues that I take with the book. One is that Ms Fraser's good schooling shines through on many pages as she often quotes a line of two from Mary written in French without bothering to provide the led elite with a translation. This can often make funny little anecdotes seem rather pointless to the reader.
Still there is no better way to discover the full scope of Mary and how people and events all conspired against her.
Perhaps no resident of Edinburgh is more famous than Mary Queen of Scots. Ironically, she lived in the land for only twelve of her forty-four years and her period of personal rule lasted a mere six years, none of which were free from strife.
Born as her father lay dying she became Queen before she was a week old. During her infancy King Henry VIII of England raided the country several times in order to kidnap the girl and secure her as a bride for his son Edward. She was sent to France by her Mother and raised as a daughter by the King. At the age of 16 she married the heir to the French throne who became King shortly thereafter. When her young husband died a year into his reign she was left a teenaged childless Queen Dowager.
She returned to the land of her birth to find herself a Catholic Queen in a country in the midst of Protestant Reformation. Many of her protestant subjects feared that she would become a second 'Bloody Mary' and like her cousin Mary Tudor attempt to force her country back to the Catholic faith. Plots and rebellions against her were a persistent occurrence.
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