cover image The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots

The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots

Carolly Erickson, . . St. Martin's, $25.99 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-312-37973-5

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.)