I finished Jean Plaidy’s Royal Road to Fotheringay today. This is the second novel about Mary Queen of Scots I’ve read, the first being Margaret George’s. I didn’t finish George’s book. I’m not sure why. It’s not that I disliked what I did read of it; in fact, I rather liked the scene where the Scots teach the Frenchified Mary and her companions how to play golf. Perhaps it was just the sheer length I found overwhelming; moreover, it’s not an easy book to read in short stretches and with kid-related distractions. One of these days I’ll get back to it.
Plaidy’s novel is much shorter. It covers Mary’s life up through her marriage to Bothwell and her subsequent capture, then in less than twenty pages covers the last twenty years of her life. (Plaidy wrote another book covering the latter period, which I understand is to be reissued later this year.) Consequently, the ending of Royal Road feels rather abrupt, to say the least. Otherwise, it’s pretty good. Mary’s character is well developed in particular. The dialogue is a bit on the wooden side, but not as petrified as it is in some of Plaidy’s later novels.
Reading the Plaidy book made me curious to read more about Mary. I have an old mass-market copy of Antonia Fraser’s biography of her (there’s a jacket photo of Fraser that makes her look something like Emma Peel), but my eyes have grown spoiled by trade paperbacks, and this old paperback is particularly cheaply produced—yellowed pages and gutters so tiny you can barely read the text nearby. Rather than subject myself to such punishment, I went looking for the trade paperback in the local library and ended up with John Guy’s more recent biography.
What’s next on the reading front? I’ve got an old (but readable) paperback copy of a novel by Jessica Smith about Katherine Howard. And hubby had better BUY ME IAN MORTIMER’S THE PERFECT KING FOR OUR ANNIVERSARY. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO TO AMAZON.CO.UK AND PRESS THE LITTLE SHOPPING CART SYMBOL. THAT’S ALL! JUST LIKE AMAZON USA EXCEPT THAT EVERYTHING’S IN POUNDS.
Sometimes you just can’t be subtle with ‘em.