The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carrolly Erickson

The problem with writing fiction about reasonably well-documented historical figures is that a significant number of your readers will be familiar with the facts about the person…and will insist that you stick to them. The fairer ones will allow as how five hundred years after the fact, accurate conversations are an impossibility. Even pinpointing the precise movements of a figure of royalty is difficult—did Mary visit the Pope in Rome or not? However, the number of children borne by a figure as well known as Mary Queen of Scots is usually fairly well documented: she had one child, a son who later became James the VI and I1.

That said, I suspect that Erickson’s faux biographies will appeal to the sort of people who don’t know any history, and can’t be bothered to read a book that requires consistent attention to plot and background details. Beach reading for bored housewives who didn’t go on to college, if you will, or perhaps adjunct reading for high school history students. Fun. I’m glad I read it. I’m even gladder that I read Margaret George’s faux biography of Mary first.

1No, really. Go look him up. Indeed some nationalist Scots hold that the current monarch of the U.K. should have a similar designation…

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