Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart

Author: John Guy
Narrator: John Guy
Published by: Harper Collins Publishers (2004)
Length: 6 hours (abridged)
My Rating: 4/5

History is both fascinating and forgettable for me. I love to read or listen to history books, but my retention of facts is minimal. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother--I'm certainly not entertaining any notions of scholarliness. What it boils down to is entertainment, and the life of Mary, Queen of Scots could never be described as boring. I knew before listening to this book some of the well-known facts about Mary, particularly her gruesome execution. But here are some examples of the utterly unscholarly facts that I have managed to remember:

  • When Mary gave birth to her first baby, she said, "If I had known it would hurt this bad, I would never have gotten married." (Amen, sister!)
  • She had a few enemas to treat various illnesses. (Do you think she wanted us all to know about them?)
  • When she was imprisoned, what she longed for most was exercise and she ate too much. (I can relate to this.)
  • She was tall. (I can't relate to this.)
So, while I may not be increasing my chances of getting on Jeopardy, or slamming my opponents at Trivial Pursuit, I will still read history and non-fiction because it's just plain interesting. This was a great audio-book to listen to, and with fiction about royalty being so popular, it would be a great companion to any story about Mary Stuart. Hopefully other readers will remember more significant details than I have, but if not, just remember--no history tests!


  1. I feel the same way about my memory. It's truly sad to read and not remember very much, isn't it. Not as sad as not reading at all, though.

    Love that thing you have on your left sidebar - What I read when I'm not reading books. Is it hard to do? If not would you be kind enough to tell me how to do it?

  2. It's very easy: Go to Customize, Add a Gadget, and the first on the list is "Blog List." Then you just copy and paste the blogs you want in there. Or I think if you have some already in Google Reader (which I did not), you can do it all at once.

  3. Sounds interesting. I like nonfiction and history not because I like random facts but because I like to learn about it, even if it doesn't stay with me. Maybe, if I hear it enough times I'll remember.

    6 hours seems rather short. Was the audiobook an abridgment?

  4. It was an abridgment--that was the only option for audio. I checked and the actual book is 608 pages, so he must have cut out quite a bit. I usually feel gypped with abridgments, but for this it was fine. I picked it out for a "Q" title for the A to Z challenge.

  5. This sounds interesting so I'm adding it to my neverending TBR list. Great review!

  6. I like these sorts of books actually FOR the unscholarly facts. I got the scholarly facts in school, and now I want the juicy details! Not enemas, though. That sort of thing should stay private in everyone's life.

  7. I'll have to do some checking for an UNabridged version. I've listened to at least one about Mary, Queen of Scots. One I have on my TBR pile is is about Mary and Elizabeth's relationship. Thanks for the review.

  8. I just finished a book about Anne Boleyn that I didn't like that much to begin with, but ended up liking in the end. I found it to be a little tedious while I was reading and wondered if an abridgment might be better but I think all the details did help me understand and appreciate the end more.