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Feb 2, 2009

The Royal Road to Fotheringay

This weekend I finished The Royal Road to Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy. It is the story of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots as she is brought up in the French Courts as she is betrothed to young Francois. (As an infant she was made Queen of Scotland when her father James V died.) It then goes on to her travels to Scotland and her second and third marriage, which were both disastrous and were not recommended to her. To use a word used in the book and which comes to mind often when thinking of Mary's decisions in her life, "Folly".
The edition I own is the same as one pictured (Pan [M197] 1967, 2nd printing Paperback) but it is slightly more used. Where your thumb goes when reading a paperback, my edition has the actual binding off in a little square at the bottom. The knowledge that I was reading a book that came to me from the UK and that it belonged to an unknown person"Merle Horvington" as transcribed inside of the book, brought me a sense of 'vintage pleasure'. I did have to be careful though as several little pieces of the binding was just crumbling at the touch. I was quite thankful it did not have that old book musty smell though it was yellowing around the edges..but not bad for a book older than I am!
Back to the contents of the book. I do not want to give away plot lines or events, but I intend to give a brief review. I truly enjoyed this version of Mary as Plaidy interprets her. I had begun my British History passion with Henry VIII, and then Elizabeth I, so I have had Elizabeth's biased view of Mary till now. Through this book, I cannot but help to feel so much more empathy for her although the decisions she makes in her love life and consequently politically are utterly disastrous and you just want to yell at her. Poor thing was misguided from the get-go. The only good thing that happens is that she and Darnley have a healthy son. The bad thing is that she barely got to see her child as she was on the run ever after and then a prisoner. That son becomes James VI of Scotland, and James I of England whom I spoke of in earlier posts in regards to Arbella aka Arabella and her own misfortune for being born a Stuart.
I have previously read Jane Dunn's Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens which is non-fiction. I can not point out any direct historical inaccuracies although I am not one for noticing for the smaller details. As far as my review of that book I had previously written on WeRead via Facebook: "It was okay.. nothing new and seemed a bit of disorganized. I didn't like how all of the major events were eluded to several times before getting to that point in time. Could never get a sense of time with this book."
I wonder if Mary was simply more in tune to her beauty and cared more for the finer things in life and not brought up to think politically. Since this work is fiction I cannot say for sure.
The book ends as she is abdicating Scotland, and now I have begun "The Captive Queen of Scots." It picks up directly where "Fotheringay" left off and you learn soon the fate of the pregnancy that we learn of towards the end of "Fotheringay".
I give The Royal Road to Fotheringay 5 of 5 stars as a piece of Fiction.
For more Factual information on Mary Queen of Scots see Wikepedia