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The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots: A Novel Hardcover – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379735
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,115,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Erickson (The Tsarina's Daughter) focuses on the life of Mary Stuart, queen of Scots, in this lackluster historical. Feared as a contender for the English throne, Mary lived much of her life in captivity. Erickson retraces Mary's entire life, from her youthful marriage to a French king to her secret relationship with James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, and finally her 1587 execution at age 44 for treason, ordered by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth. Throughout, Mary lives under the shadow of a prophecy, dooming her to a tragic end. Though she lived in tumultuous times, Mary's story—fraught as it is with long periods of confinement—is not particularly exciting. Nor does she make for a compelling heroine, seeming content to wait on the sidelines and let others act for her. Queen Elizabeth's brief appearances enliven the story a bit, but not enough to save it. Readers desperate for Tudor-Stuart intrigue may find this palatable but not enthralling. (Sept.)
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Review

“The always reliable Erickson mines rich historical territory when she excavates the relatively brief, yet ever-fascinating, life of Mary Queen of Scots for her latest historical tour de force. . . . This intimate reworking of a storied life etched with plenty of royal maneuvering and tragedy will appeal to the usual suspects—steer Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory fans immediately to this satisfying read.”—Booklist

 

“A fast-paced, lavishly detailed narrative.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

“As one of the foremost fictionalized biographers writing today, Erickson breathes life into history and brings great women to life. She brilliantly takes Mary, Queen of Scots, out of the historical record and creates a passionate woman readers will understand and adore. . . . Erickson’s engrossing narrative allows Mary to speak and readers to decide what kind of woman she was.”—Romantic Times (4 ½ stars, Top Pick)

 

“In her latest historical entertainment, Erickson blends fact with fancy as she unravels the life story and tragic end of Mary, Queen of Scots. . . . the narrative clips along at a suspenseful pace . . . The vividly realized relationship between Mary and her Scottish consort, Jamie, is the strongest aspect of the book. Recommended for historical fiction fans who enjoy Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy and can’t read enough novels about this period.”—Library Journal

 

“Engaging and personal . . . a fascinating read.” —Sacramento Book Review

More About the Author

Carolly Erickson is the bestselling author of many distinguished works of nonfiction and a series of historical entertainments, blending fact and invention. She lives in Hawaii.

Customer Reviews

It's not recommended for those who are pursuing accurate historical books.
Katrina L. Lefay
I understand that an author has license to invent certain events, but to actually make up something totally out of the blue that history doesn't reflect?
cpcjr
Erickson's novel doesn't illuminate the gray areas of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots -- she INVENTS them, wholesale.
S. McGee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm trying to react to this novel in the spirit that Carolly Erickson suggests in her author's note at the end -- to view it as a 'historical entertainment', as 'whimsy'. But I can't. It's just a bad book, not only because it plays fast and loose with the known facts of history (occasionally reading a bit like a hallucination of what might have been) but because it's not even well-written. The only positive note is that I didn't buy it; a friend of mine who knows that I enjoy historical fiction gave it to me as a gift, and I thought I might as well try it, despite my growing distaste for Erickson's novels.

Good historical fiction, like any work of fiction, starts with the author posing himself or herself the question, "What if..." and continues from there. The winners in this category know their history and respect it, in part because they know that a reasonable degree of historical accuracy is valued by those readers who are irritated by errors and partly because they respect the history themselves, and hope to foster a knowledge and appreciation for it on the part of readers whose introduction to a time in history or a historical figure may come through their book. After a certain point, treating historical fact as if it didn't matter, or just an obstacle in the way of telling a good story, irritates me deeply. Especially when the facts already lend themselves to a lot of interpretation and drama, as countless historical novelists have discovered. "Historical entertainment" increasingly strikes me as a more acceptable way of saying that a lazy writer can't be bothered to play by the rules that others largely stick to, perhaps because those rules might limit sales.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By cpcjr on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I don't usually write reviews on books I have read but I just had to on this one. I have read a few "historical novels" on this time period and individuals in history, but this novel made me go "huh?". Now I know that historical fiction takes license in situations and events, but never to the point of making up history. I had to go back a reread parts of it to make sure I read it right. Mary had a "secret" daughter to Bothwell? What about the twins she lost? Bothwell "visited" her while in captivity disguised as a peddler? And the thing that really got me was that Mary escaped from captivity and spent years in Rome with the Pope to try to start a religious crusade against the English. The scene where the Pope is part of a fight with Bothwell and Don John is ridiculous. I had to quickly read over these scenes because they bothered me so much. The author states at the end about "historical entertainment" and states that Bothwell never visited Mary in captivity and never knew what happened to her.
I understand that an author has license to invent certain events, but to actually make up something totally out of the blue that history doesn't reflect? Unbelievable! Try novels by Jean Plaidy or Philippa Gregory instead.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Raven Grimaldi on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've always been fascinated by Mary Queen of Scots, the fate of Darnley, Bothwell and the perfidious Scots lords, and fell prey to Erickson's Memoirs, not expecting the talent of Elizabeth Byrd's Immortal Queen, or Antonia Fraser's brilliant bio, but at least a pleasant read. Not so. This book is truly tripe, from the poor writing and editorial misses to the nonsensical history Erickson makes up. Bothwell disguised as a peddler who visits her in captivity? Meeting Elizabeth in the bath at Buxton in the dead of night? Escaping from England to spend years with the Pope plotting a Catholic takeover of England? This isn't just re-imagining what might have happened, it's an author gone off the rails. This isn't a "historical entertainment", it's fantasy, and badly written fantasy at that. It's also an insult to good historical fiction writers everywhere, and especially to poor Mary Queen of Scots herself. Do yourself a favor and don't buy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amy E. Herrmann on February 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was ok with the liberties the author was taking right up to the point where Mary escapes and goes off to Rome. I love historical fiction. I also an am avid reader of true history, and have read several biograpies of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I. Like I said in my title, I understand this is a novel. But to take such a liberty! It was hard enough to suspend what I know of the true history to even entertain the thought that Bothwell visited Mary in England. It's become standard to write in a meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. Those things I can accept because they don't change the central facts and keep the storyline where it should be.

I can't even finish this novel. I don't want to know what Mary does in Rome, or how she ends up back in England waiting to get her head chopped off. This novelist must make Mary out to make worse decisions than she did in life.

Pass this one up. If you're looking for decent historidal fiction about Mary, Queen of Scots, read Margaret George's book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By amber st. clare on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With all the drama Mary Queen of Scots endured in her life, I find it almost impossible to understand how the author of this book managed to write a book that is virtually unreadable.

Her flights of fancy--really? Mary has a daughter who survived?--are so totally aggravating I found it impossible to finish this book. Bothwell called her {wait for it!} ORANGEBLOSSOM....yikes. Mary's real life was dramatic and the stuff of legend. I don't know WHAT the author was thinking when she wrote this piece of fluff, but telling Mary's story was obviously NOT her goal.

I bought this book for $3.00 and consider it a total waste of money.
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