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In The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, Carolly Erickson provides another in her series of mesmerizing historical entertainments, and takes listeners deep into the life and heart of the 16th century's most fascinating woman.
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By Bonnie-Ann B on 09-25-09
Fiction being the key word
I downloaded this book both because I had enjoyed Ms. Erickson's prior novel about Katherine Parr and because I read or listen to most books (fiction and non) about Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. Unfortunately, I also wrote my senior thesis in college on the interplay between Elizabeth and Mary so my own knowledge of history is strong in this era.
I say unfortunately because, as well-narrated as this book was, and knowing that it was a fictional treatment of Queen Mary's life, the grotesque historical inaccuracies ruined the listening for me. At the very end, the narrator reads an "Afterword" that acknowledges the lack of authenticity. No, Mary and Elizabeth did not meet in the baths (in fact, they never met at all, but most fictional writers feel the need to have them meet). Lord Bothwell died in a Danish prison. The whole story is a compilation of "what ifs." If that acknowledgment had been a preface rather than an afterword, I might have been able to better enjoy the story as pure fiction, using the names of historical figures.
Mary and Elizabeth never met. Lord Bothwell did not visit Mary during her long imprisonment in England after Mary's abdication of the Scottish throne. Mary certainly did NOT escape England, go to Italy and roam around Flanders and France and then return to England. The entire story is made up out of whole cloth and is a poor introduction to the wonderful world of the Tudors and the Stuarts who are fascinating figures.
The real people who are characterized in this book are interesting enough without the number of dramatizations that are in this story. Novelizing Elizabeth and Mary is fine and so many good novels have been written of their lives. This just isn't one of them.
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