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Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  8,927 ratings  ·  440 reviews
She was a child crowned a queen; a sinner hailed as a saint; a lover denounced as a whore; a woman murdered for her dreams.

A fictional account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots traces her lineage and describes her childhood, marriages, and her historic fight with Elizabeth over the throne of England.
Paperback, 870 pages
Published April 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shana
I was 17 years old with an honor student's workload. For some reason I decided to take on an 870 page epic. Even for someone who likes to read, any Margaret George book takes real commitment. For most people that commitment becomes effortless and will last a lifetime.

Something happened when I first read this novel. I was lost in it. I devoured it. It's haunted me ever since. I read it again every few years, and visit it like an old friend. The characters are dynamic, genuine, and tortured (somet
...more
Orsolya
Unfortunately, higher-ranking females named Mary didn’t fare quite so well in British history and Mary, Queen of Scots, was no exception. From queen at a few days old, to France, back to Scotland, and then imprisoned and beheaded in England; Margaret George reveals Mary Stuart’s life in, “Mary: Queen of Scotland and the Isles”.

Those readers familiar with George’s novels will find that “Mary” sticks to the usual stylistic format from the author. George begins “Mary” somewhat slowly using a crawl
...more
Rio (Lynne)
First off, you need to be either in the mood for this book or be very interested in Mary Queen of Scots. If I'd picked this up a year ago, I would have skimmed to the end. I visited Scotland in January and hit pretty much every place that Mary had been. I've never been a fan of Mary, but after standing in the rooms where Riccio was murdered, James was born and where Darnley came to his demise, I was ready to read more on Mary. I first tried "Immortal Queen" but lost interest due to the fluff. I ...more
Jan
Well..... I finally finished it. Whew! 870 pages worth. And, you know... I really got immersed in it. There is a family tree at the beginning as well as a couple of maps of England and Scotland with significant castles and cities noted. I consulted them A LOT as I made my way through Mary's life. The author spares no details - when Mary goes outside or looks out her window or eats a meal, we hear about the flower petals and the birdsong and the scents on the breeze and the texture of the clouds ...more
Carol Storm
Margaret George has rescued Mary from the history books and brought her to life as a vibrant, compelling, and astonishingly modern heroine. This Mary talks and thinks like a modern woman, yet her actions are absolutely true to the spirit of the times and the known facts about her life.

Sometimes the language is a bit too modern, as when Mary describes her gorgeous husband Lord Darnley as "looking good enough to eat" during their wedding feast. And the sex scenes leave absolutely nothing to the i
...more
Tania
Only at the end of a life could the pattern be discerned; only then was there a completed weaving to be seen. And hers was this: since the moment of her birth, she had been an inconvenient person, a person who did not fit in, who ruined other people's tidy patterns.


Well written and extremely informative, this was just too long. I would have enjoyed this much more if there were fewer pages of people riding on horses, on their way somewhere. I was also suprised by the romance writing (lots of puls
...more
Isabel
Aww, man. I wanted to like this book. I just couldn't.

Mary was a drag. I couldn't really relate to her. We got an occasional glimpse into her feelings, but it was always very external. While it's told largely from her perspective (though not in first person), she still feels distant as a human being. We're told she's beautiful. We're told she's athletic. We're told she's a devout Catholic, and that part was pretty solid. Not only did the author establish her religion, but she made it a part of h
...more
Susan
I hadn't known too much about the details of Mary, Queen of Scots' life, so this book was really enjoyable and informative. I found myself advocating for Mary, then becoming frustrated with her decision making as she moved toward what I knew was going to be her demise. I was pleased to learn that, of the 200 characters in the book, all of them were real figures in history, so it seems Margaret George is a top notch historical writer. I also enjoyed hearing her (Margaret George) brief analysis o ...more
Jessica
I am a big fan of Margaret George and have enjoyed the books she has written immensely. Mary Queen of Scots however missed the mark with me. Too often this book degraded into Harlequin romancesque passages. There were times I closed the book to look at the front cover to be certain a shirtless Fabio wasn’t on it. I think I could have over looked that aspect of the book if the rest of it had kept me enraptured. However large amounts of the book outside the bosom heaving love making passages were ...more
Undine
The life of Mary Queen of Scots is perhaps history's greatest soap opera. It is impossible to make her story dull, although, when reading this novel, I sometimes had the feeling that George was trying her hardest to disprove that fact. True, Mary was a prisoner for twenty years, but did George have to spend what felt like twenty years describing it?

I wish the author had spent less time on the latter half of Mary's life, and more on her years in Scotland, particularly where her relationship with
...more
Elle
This was a great read! Perfect for the beach, as it was easy to dip in and out of. As an historical fiction junkie, it was super. The story, which I was not very familiar with, was fascinating. Filled with intrigue, betrayal, and the politics of the day, I remained interested most of the time, only losing interest occasionally in scenes filled with intense battle descriptions or the like. Mary had a life marked by much sadness and disappointment, but throughout it all, she kept a sense of almost ...more
Tina Pino
I went back and forth on whether to give four or five stars. During most of the book, it was like traveling back in time, and having a secret hiding place, watching history unfold through a tiny window, but never actually being inside the room. Although it kept me very interested throughout, it didn't become a page turner for me until about halfway through. I didn't have that breathless magical feeling I get when I finish a five star novel that truly moves me. However, the amount of work that mu ...more
Jen
If only history courses in school were taught via historical novels.. It's so much easier to remember a period in history when you can become emotionally involved with the characters! I very much enjoyed reading this (long, but definitely a page turner) book, though it lacked a depth that many good novels have. I suppose some depth must be sacrificed in order to stick to the facts as much as possible. I never quite figured out how I felt about Mary, which is part of the point since her true char ...more
Amanda
Mary Queen of Scots led a fascinating life, which is described in captivating detail in George's book. Despite the commitment the length of this book demands, every page held a piece of Scottish history I wanted to understand.

Mary can be a very controversial historical figure. So I imagine writing about her life can create much debate for the author, either representing her in a good or bad light. However, I respected George's interpretation, even more so once reading her notes at the end of the
...more
Sara Giacalone
I've had this book for years and for the life of me can't figure out why it took me so long to read it, especially as I enjoyed "The Autobiography of Henry VIII". Once I cracked it open, it took me no time to become hooked and I really enjoyed Margaret George's interpretation of Mary Queen of Scotland. After reading numerous factual books about the time period and the events, it was satisfying to read a more intimate, emotional portrayal of her life and times. Yes, the book is a bit long and has ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Margaret George does a tremendous job bringing to life the times and characters and the drama surrounding the legendary Mary, Queen of Scots. I finally have a lot of questions answered regarding this woman's mysterious history. I like the way this book tells of her entire life, not just her captivity in England in which all she does in other novels is write letters and whine. BUT, once I reached page 500, I had enough, and no offense to Margaret George, I simply cannot stand Mary, Queen of Scots ...more
Kim Karpeles
After reading and viewing several biographical accounts of Queen Elizabeth I, I became intrigued by the life of Mary Queen of Scots who usually figured as a minor actor in the Virgin Queen's story. In this 870 page tome, Mary is the central figure with Elizabeth the minor, yet incredibly powerful, character who ultimately determines Mary's fate.

Well-researched and well-written, Margaret George depicts in full but not exhausting detail the lifestyle, political and religious climates of not only S
...more
Kathy
What did I learn from this book? A few things . . .

1) Real history is almost always more interesting than a fictionalized version of that history.
2) If a book is over 800 pages and I'm not sucked in by #200, I should just stop.
3) On that note, life is too short and unpredictable to continue reading a book I don't love (or at least like a lot).
4) I don't think there is an author on the planet who can make me feel sympathetic toward Mary Stuart, no matter how hard s/he tries.
5) If an author writes
...more
Sarah
This was the first time I read a book by Margaret George and I'm really impressed. The story felt believable and historically accurate. Mary Stuart was portrayed as a loving, strong but also very human character. I felt for her so much.

The beginning was painfully slow, but when it did pick up, it was hard to put it down. In many ways it's a frustrating book, just because Mary is treated so badly throughout almost all of the story. But even so, it's well worth the read and very interesting.
Rebecca Huston
One of the better novelizations of Mary, Queen of Scots from the cradle to the grave. While this is a -very- long-winded novel, at least the author refrains from the more extravagant silliness that seems to have taken over the historical novel market. For that alone this one deserves a second look. The prose is readable, and the facts more or less in place. The Mary here is foolhardy, more wanting to be loved than involved in politics, but unfortunately, she was born in the wrong time and place. ...more
Leslie
Jul 17, 2009 Leslie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: england
Ug! I knew it was too good to be true that I should enjoy historical fiction. Remember the old granny in COLD COMFORT FARM that saw something nasty in the woodshed? Well, I know what she saw. She saw page 304 of this damn book! There I was minding my own business halfway thru this not terrible novel when I of a sudden i saw something beyond nasty. I stopped reading just in time but the imagery haunted my eyes the rest of the day. I was completely irritated. Why in the hell would the writer, of n ...more
Regina Lindsey
Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George
4 Stars

It is really hard to review this work without some minor spoilers.

Mary became Queen at the age of six days old, but was sent to France at the age of five to be raised at the French court. She eventually returns to a Protestant Scotland as a young widow, although she has been assured she can continue in the Catholic faith. For a time Queen Mary seemed in control of her realm, circumspection and intelligence consistently informing her r
...more
meg
Another book of historical goodness! This was the second book I read by George. It was a little daunting to go from the long Autobiography of Henry VIII to another long tale of Queen Mary, but I was eager and excited nonetheless. I really enjoy George's ability to take historical facts and mold them together with fiction to create an account of a life that might be both interesting to history buffs or boring to someone not that interested in history.
Mikel
There are only a few things that keep this book from having four stars. Mostly, I think it may have been a little too descriptive of Darnley's extra-marital affairs especially the part with Riccio. Which I haven't found historical backing for (not saying there isn't, I'm just saying that I've never seen it). I'd have preferred if the author had left that part out.

Otherwise I thought it was well researched and well balanced. The author kind of takes the middle road in whether Mary had anything t
...more
Molly Brewer
Mary Queen of Scots is a fantastically frustrating figure in history, and so she is in Margaret George's novel. Such a bad judge of character, so many poor decisions and squandered opportunities. It's no surprise that her cousin Elizabeth I was the more successful queen. I picked this up because George's Memoirs of Cleopatra is a long-time favorite, although I was less keen on Mary, Called Magdalene. MQoSatI (what an acronym!) falls somewhere between those two novels on the enjoyment continuum. ...more
Graceann
Aug 22, 2010 Graceann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
I had only read one other novel from Margaret George (Mary, Called Magdalene), which I loved. I wasn't sure if I'd be all that interested in this Queen whose life is rather sketchy, but I suspect that where she's an historian's nightmare, she's a novelist's dream. Who wouldn't want to write about a character where so many gaps must be filled in with imagination and guesswork? The quality that Ms. George brings to the story is that she makes it all believeable. Mary is not a saint, and nothing ev ...more
itpdx
I finally plowed through this book. I appreciated the chance to see this time period through the eyes of Mary Queen of Scotland as imagined by Margaret George. But this book has reinforced in my mind the brillance of Hilary Mantel in writing historical fiction from the point of view of a behind the scene actor. Then it is not necessary to understand the motivations of the monarch whose moves are documented. George tried to make Mary's choices understandable but the motivations that she chose jus ...more
Misfit
Only if you are a die-hard Mary fan. In no way am I knocking the author or her research (LOVED the auto-bio of Henry VIII), but I lost interest about 1/3 the way through and only finished it by using it as a book to pass the time on the treadmill with . Maybe it is just me, as I love historical fiction and would typically devour a book like this in no time, particularly anything to do with the Tudors.

I just couldn't get into Mary's trials and tribulations, as I found her to be silly, vapid and
...more
Zoe
I read this book when I was on vacation in Scotland. bought it in Sterling Castle. Very interesting tale of the much debated Queen of Scots. I doubt I would have liked her a lot were I a Scot living in those turbulent times.
Jilly
Excellent writing, historical fiction at its best. This is tragic history of a Queen forced into exile to England. Her own cousin, Queen of England,
Elizabeth I, imprisons her for many years.

The book begins with Mary as a young child, destined to be Queen of Scotland, her rise to Queen of France-widowed young, remarries to please England's Queen by marrying into the Tudor family relation.Becomes
Queen of Scotland, betrayed by the Protestant realm. She finds herself married to a immature, alcohol
...more
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6599
Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 wa ...more
More about Margaret George...
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers Memoirs of Cleopatra Helen of Troy Mary, Called Magdalene Elizabeth I

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“The cure for a broken heart is simple, my lady. A hot bath and a good night's sleep.” 47 likes
“I had a desire to see something besides my own shores, if only to be content to return to them someday. If I wish to live in my native land and love her, it should not be out of ignorance.” 23 likes
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