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Death Stalks Kettle Street
John Bowen

The life of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Blood Royal - Elisabeth McNeill

The life of Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary, Queen of Scots has appeared in several historical fiction books that I've read over the years, so it was interesting to read something that focused primarily on her for a change.

In this narration, the story of her life is alternated with that of a fictional peddler who sees her leave Scotland for France as a small child and continues to admire her as she returns to claim her throne at the age of nineteen. He manages to sell his fine cloth within the palace and meets her in person, and finally attends her death by beheading, although by now he is blind. While not necessary to the story of Mary, this peddler's tale did illustrate something of the life of the common man in the sixteenth century and made for a break in the somewhat dry telling of Mary's own life.

According to this version of events, Mary came back from France as a naiive but likable young lady who was easily swayed by men. Her brief marriage in France to the sickly Francis, Dauphin of France, appears to have been unconsummated and her second marriage, to her first cousin, Stuart Darnley was a complete disaster. By now she has become more scheming and less likeble, so she almost gets what she deserves with James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. He, however does seem to be loyal and this costs him his life.

A light, informative telling of Mary's story, that has left me with little respect for her as a person, although I don't know how fair this is, historically speaking.
Well narrated by Hilary Neville.