Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country by Kathryn Lasky

Mary Queen of Scots(Cover picture courtesy of Open Library.)

July 12, 1554

I think hawking is one of the things that Francis and I do so well together.  Our instincts combined with those of the birds seem to fit perfectly when we are in the field.  We speak very little to one another but silently give the calls to the birds and perform our hand signals.  This afternoon the two of us went out with only Robin McClean as our guard.  And I thought as I took a rest on the ridge of a hill that there was something of perfect harmony amongst the three of us and the birds we had brought to fly.  If only all of life could be kept in the company of such good souls…

Mary Queen of Scots was a fascinating historical figure and I think that in some ways, Queen Without a Country does her justice.  On the other hand, objectively speaking, it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read.  I’ll talk about the latter first.

Throughout the whole book, Kathryn Lasky seemed to be trying to get at something, hinting at some greater meaning.  Yet at the end of everything, all we see is a stereotypical, predictable ‘ending’ that shows Mary’s ingenuity but doesn’t leave the reader with that message.  It feels incomplete, partly because Kathryn Lasky was hinting at Mary reconciling with Queen Catherine, but she never really did.  Of course, being a diary of a woman who continued to live for many years afterward, you can’t expect it to be a perfectly wrapped up ending.  But there was still something…lacking.

Mary herself was an interesting character, but not exactly memorable.  Still, Kathryn Lasky did do Mary the historical figure justice with her portrayal of a headstrong, resourceful, intelligent young woman.  One thing I found odd, however, was the lack of mention about Mary’s religion.  Mary was relatively pious, spending the last few hours before her execution praying, but religion seems not to be a big feature in Queen Without a Country.  I’m not complaining, but it does seem a bit strange considering religion played such a big role in everyone’s daily lives in the 16th century.

Overall, Kathryn Lasky’s portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots was decent and her writing was okay, but nothing more.  There was really nothing to distinguish her book from the many others in The Royal Diaries.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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