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My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots
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My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  1,493 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
A long-overdue and dramatic reinterpretation of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots by one of the leading historians at work today.

She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and
Paperback, 574 pages
Published August 2nd 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2004)
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Alice Poon
Jun 29, 2017 Alice Poon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, history
I've given this book 5 full stars. It took me an inordinate amount of time to finish it due to the humongous cast of characters and the tangled relationships that the Tudor and Stuart family trees exhibit. Now that the reading is done, I can say that I’m truly impressed by this luminous, expertly researched biography of the gracious, witty, brave and ill-fated Scottish Queen, from whom every subsequent British ruler has been descended.

Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of Scotland when she was less t
Nov 10, 2011 4triplezed rated it it was ok
To say this was a sympathetic biography of Mary Queen of Scots would do an injustice to the word sympathetic. I hate to use the word hagiography but this is as close as it gets.

The author is a specialist in Tudor history and is to be respected but I have come away from this very readable book, and I mean very readable, profoundly confused. He has, in my opinion, let his deep research into the subject cloud his judgement in the presentation of the biography. His sympathy spoils the entire narrat
Jul 15, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Interesting insight on what Mary was really like but the author is VERY biased in her favour and bends over backwards to show her in a favourable light, often to the detriment of others. I wonder how he feels about the recent revelations by medical historians that for it to be apparent that Mary had miscarried Bothwell's twins (rather than a single baby), she must have been at least five months pregnant - 16th century medicine would not have been able to discern twin foetuses before that stage. ...more
Mary, Queen of Scots, doesn’t have the best reputation. Said to have ruled with her heart rather than her head; Mary Stuart was surrounded by drama, heartbreak, forced to abdicate her throne, and eventually beheaded after being held captive in England. Yet, there is much to credit Mary that many people overlook. Historian John Guy attempts to rehabilitate this infamous woman in, “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart”.

Guy presents “Queen of Scots” as a full-fledged biography beginning wi
Aug 18, 2012 Fiona rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book but found it difficult not to be furious with Mary's stupidity and short-sightedness, not to mention her vanity which allowed her to be easily led by similarly vain and ambitious men. Guy perhaps is a little in love with Mary and the book lacks incisiveness and impartiality because of it but it's still one of the best biographies I've read.
Jul 19, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone more interested in hagiography than the truth
Shelves: history
Good read but too biased and tries to present Mary as a far better person than the evidence suggests she could possibly have been.

What are we to think of a woman who, when the husband she loathes is murdered, gives his horse and some of his clothes to the man EVERYONE says is the killer?

What should we think when she refuses to allow more than a "show" trial at which the court is surrounded by armed men employed by the defendant, who threatens to kill anyone who speaks out of turn?

What should
Apr 30, 2013 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Mary Queen of Scots, when she's not being muddled up with Mary Tudor, is generally known as a scandalous Queen. She is the emotional, flighty counterpart to Elizabeth I's steely calculation. John Guy does a wonderful job of rubbishing this stereotypical view.

He is obviously a fan of Mary and does his best to show the other, lesser known facets of her character. Unlike her English cousin, Mary became the Queen of Scotland when she was only six days old and she left Scotland to marry the French Da
Mari Biella
Centuries after her execution, Mary Queen of Scots remains one of the most divisive and enigmatic figures in British history. Was she manipulated and betrayed by those around her? Or was she conniving, untrustworthy, and perhaps even a party to the murder of her own husband?

Those wanting to find out the truth (insofar as “the truth” can be recovered after so much time) could do far worse than to read John Guy’s scholarly, masterful biography. Guy presents Mary as a sympathetic, generous woman wh
Jun 09, 2015 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit it: the reason I wanted to read this book is because I watch (and love) the CW show "Reign," which is loosely based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. How loosely? Pretty darn. But one thing is the same-I am Team Mary forever and ever, amen. She may occasionally make some pretty bad decisions about her love life, but that doesn't change my love for her. She was an awesome lady. And if everyone around her hadn't sucked so much (if you don't believe me, read the book. They were all th ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't like stupid theories
I hate most of the contemporary literature on Mary. It's all a bunch of did she or didn't she a. murder Darnley b. plot to murder Darnley c. write the casket letters d. consent to marry Bothwell e. plot against Elizabeth f. die a tragic martyr g. all of the above. Let it rest, people (Alison Weir, I AM LOOKING AT YOU). And yes, Guy takes an opinion on all of these subjects, but stays within reasonable factual boundaries and doesn't spend chapters and chapters on ridiculous theories about Darnley ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Supposedly a revisionist view of Mary Stuart with new information that sets her decisions in a better light...I read it hoping for this and came to the conclusion that nope, she's still an idiot. A better documented idiot, but still an idiot.
Dec 31, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Mary was in my estimation was still a nitwit, but I enjoyed this book immensely.
Jun 03, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I returned from Scotland and a visit to the National Museum of Scotland wanting to read a biography of Mary Stuart that wasn't through the Tudor lens. This was a great one. Inherently readable. I learned a lot. I always had the Darnley/Bothwell timeline screwed up in my head. I also now understand much better why Mary was seen as such a threat to Elizabeth. That being said, William Cecil is an ass. I had no idea Mary made such an effort to have a positive working relationship with Elizabeth. I f ...more
Nick Sweeney
May 06, 2013 Nick Sweeney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very detailed look at the story of Mary Stuart. I always looked upon her as a tragic figure, churned helplessly up in her times and circumstances, but this book makes that into a convenient myth. The truth was that Mary was as much of a player in what led to her ultimate downfall as all of the other people around her. In her early life she was up against the machinations of the french court, led by her own Guise family - her mother was the scheming Mary de Guise - who inflated Mary's s ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Leah rated it it was amazing
A sympathetic portrait…

Having thoroughly enjoyed Guy's recent biography of Thomas Becket, I had high expectations of this book, which Guy more than fulfilled. A meticulous historian who prides himself on stripping back the layers of accepted history by returning to and re-evaluating the original sources, Guy also has the skill of a true storyteller. For a non-historian like myself, it is this skill that makes his books so readable, that makes his characters emerge as rounded human beings with st
Danielle Reily
Jun 30, 2012 Danielle Reily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this in-depth biography absolutely fascinating. I love Tudor history, and of course I have read about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots before. She has always been more of a background character in the books I've read. I knew the basic facts of her life and death and how she impacted the English monarchy, but there is a lot more to her than I expected. I had made a lot of assumptions regarding her and her actions as a queen.
John Guy goes through all of the contemperary records and evidence i
Apr 20, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very thorough and interesting account about Mary Queen of Scots. The author, John Guy, attempts to answer the questions of the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, the marriage of Mary to Bothwell, and her plots against Elizabeth I. The author depicts Mary not as a "femme fatale" as many other historians have. He believes that she did not conspire to murder her husband. What is interesting is the extent to which the author explains the plot against Darnley and the whole marriage to Both ...more
This biography is well-researched with a strong narrative arc. I docked it for the author's frequent and absurd editorializing about Mary, particularly her supposed superiority to Elizabeth I. For example, Guy's assertions that Mary Stuart was more disciplined or politically astute than Elizabeth I at any point are just laughable. These biases made me wonder what else he was telling me that wasn't accurate.
Aug 30, 2012 Sydowg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an enlightening historical account of Mary, Queen of Scots. The author, John Guy, brought her to life for me, and he intermingled factual writings along with many discrepancies written throughout the years. This book gives a detailed account of her life from childhood to death. It makes me wonder, what if? Very well written as a biography.
Jacob hurt
Aug 20, 2008 Jacob hurt rated it liked it
I originally bought this as an "anti-Elizabeth I" book. But, I really enjoyed it. I gave it 3 stars because it's really one-sided, and it tries to prove that Mary was a saint... yeah right. But very enjoyable.
Aug 19, 2007 Cheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biographies are not typically my "thing." However, I found this a fascinating read, and while some of the day-to-day is obviously fictionalized dialogue, etc., it kept it interesting for me.
Sarah -
Beautifully written biography of Mary. Not without its flaws, but far less biased than others I've read. Even paints Elizabeth in a decent light and Cecil (rightfully so though) shoulders most of the blame.

Full review to come.


My Book Blog --->

While I would not consider Mary a heroine of mine, I can certainly say that she is an unjustly maligned figure who deserves a lot more respect than she has received in the 400+ years since her death.
Roman Clodia
Apr 14, 2017 Roman Clodia rated it it was amazing
This is the best book currently available on Mary Queen of Scots. Guy effortlessly straddles the chasm between precise and nuanced scholarship and popular history offering us a narrative which is as thrilling and articulate to read as it is academically dependable.

The pace is brisker than Antonia Fraser's now classic study Mary Queen of Scots and Guy is a sympathetic reader of Mary without ever becoming sentimental or romanticising her. He points out the extent to which the more usual unthinking
C.S. Burrough
May 20, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
An essential element of any historical biographer's task is to put colour into the cheeks of their subject, which Professor Guy effects with aplomb in this meticulously penned tome. This queen, who has has for centuries polarised commentariats, is a personal favourite, this being the twenty-something book of her I've relished. Each biographer depicts her as predominantly innocent or guilty. This one is firmly on Mary's side and puts his case supremely.

The details that divide on the Queen of Scot
Brittany Nelson
John Guy’s biography is hailed as a sympathetic biographyl s0 I was excited. Indeed, I did enjoy the first 300 pages. It established Mary as a complete capable as a political player, whereas she is usually seen as tone deaf to politics. While also pointing out her flaws, like to trustworthy of people she considered family. It shows her dealing with Elizabeth and also setting up her band of councilors and battling the different factions in Scotland. After her marriage to Lord Darnley, his strengt ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Lauralee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary, Queen of Scots has captured many imaginations today. Indeed, the latest historical tv drama, Reign, focuses on the young life of Mary, Queen of Scots. She is portrayed in history as a femme fatale who uses her beauty and charms and manipulates those around her to get the throne of England. She is also portrayed as a failed ruler whose country would have been better had she never been queen at all. However, in John Guy’s biography of Mary, Queen of Scots portrays her as a woman of intellige ...more
Simon Reid
Apr 02, 2015 Simon Reid rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding biography of Mary Stuart and confirms John Guy as my favourite historian. Her life is a thrilling story in his hands, and the pace achieved is all the more impressive in that he never forgoes scholarly rigour or simplifies for convenience.

Even when things get fiendishly complex for Mary, he keeps all the plates spinning - her handling of the pesky Scottish lords, her shifting favour with the Guise dynasty in France (her mother's side of the family), the religious tensions
Feb 01, 2012 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Queen beheaded. Is it a result of her own doing or is she a victim of circumstances?

Every historian has certain innate biases and points of view he or she is wanting to discover or reveal. However, John Guy is an award winning historian/biographer of high caliber, and according to his research, the ill-fated Queen was as much a victim of conniving Scottish noblemen and English royal advisers as she was a scheming member of the Royal family.

From reading this book it comes to light that being a
Oct 15, 2016 Belle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this because a friend of mine let it slip that John Guy was not entirely a Mary Stuart loyalist, and that I would get a better glimpse into some hard facts than if I read someone with a stronger bias toward protecting Mary's image. Though one specific chapter invoked outrage, I was able to set emotionally charged opinions aside and take in the larger picture this writer was working with. I may disagree on the speculative outcome, but there are so many things surrounding her that can only ...more
Robyn Elliot
This is a masterful biography, wholly and unequivocally sympathetic to Mary, effectively presenting her as a doomed queen from the very moment she returned to Scotland. I completely concur with this view, but I've never read it so explicitly presented until now in John Guy's sensitively written, meticulously researched bio. He sets Mary against the backdrop of a violent, blooded Scotland, where she lacks a unified and loyal nobility as opposed to her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary has to deal with the ...more
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John Guy studied medieval and Tudor history and is acknowledged as a leading authority on castles.
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