The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots

Written by Carolly Erickson
Review by Troy Reed

Historian and novelist Carolly Erickson takes another foray into fiction and delivers a sweeping tale spanning the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The novel, told from Mary’s point of view, focuses on the queen’s whole life, not just the time she spent in captivity, which adds more life to the story and gives readers a more complete picture of who Mary Stuart was.

The story begins with the young Mary’s betrothal and marriage to the king of France, which did not last long before the young, sickly king died. Her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, is portrayed as an imposing and cruel figure in Mary’s life, and Mary rightfully fears what will happen to her if she remains at the French court. The widowed queen feels very alone with only her beloved grandmother there to support her. Mary returns to her birth land of Scotland after the death of her mother, the ruling regent. She is quickly surprised by the different life she is thrust into and must quickly adjust from the serene, cultured French court to the rough, undisciplined ways of Scotland. Mary is living in turbulent times, with very little guidance, and fears betrayal and uprisings at every turn. Her cousin, Elizabeth I, who always viewed Mary as a threat, plays a very small role in the novel. Instead, the book is more focused on the relationship between Mary and her second husband, Jamie, Earl of Bothwell.

Erickson writes from the perspective of what if and fills in the gaps that history has left. Her style makes for an entertaining story about imagined events and people in the life of the Queen of Scots. As long as readers are not looking for historical accuracy in every part of the plot, they should be pleased with Erickson’s take on the life of the headstrong and tragic queen.