Monday, February 14

A Heroine for the Ages


Romantic heroines - there are so many to choose from, it boggles the mind. But my all time favorite has to be Mary, Queen of Scots. When I was in junior high, I read the fantastic Immortal Queen, by Elizabeth Byrd. If you haven't read it, start scouring used bookstores and the Internet to find a copy. In contrast to the historically accurate - and somewhat dry - classic by Antonia Fraser, this book is written in the dialogue-rich style of Jean Plaidy or Victoria Holt.


At the core, Mary just wanted to be loved. Sound familiar? True, she had a high stress job (ruling one Scotland - a boys club if ever there was one - and contemplating how much she wanted to boot Elizabeth out of England and rule it as well). She married her first husband at fifteen, becoming Queen of France. They'd been raised almost as brother and sister, and he wasn't exactly all there in the brains or bed department. In fact, it is unlikely they ever consummated the marriage, and he died two years later. Strike One!

Mary returned to Scotland, and a second marriage was a pressing issue. Gotta have that heir and a spare! So when a hot, tall blonde British nobleman showed up on the scene to woo her, what's a girl gonna do but fall head over heels? Marrying Lord Darnley also happened to be a great way to piss off her cousin Elizabeth. Talk about an added incentive to practically elope. On the plus side, she did get a son out of the marriage. The down side is that once he had the title and the fancy ermine robes, Darnley showed his true colors; not governing, but drinking, carousing, and becoming well known for his sexual perversions. Not good husband material! When he helped to orchestrate the viscious murder - in front of her! - of her private secretary, Mary was done with him.

She managed to escape with the help of James Bothwell. Once her inconvenient ex was out of the way (this is a Valentines Day post, so I won't discuss whether or not Mary had Darnley murdered), she married Bothwell. Rugged, take charge, Scottish - a man's man. Quite the opposite from her priggish (and in his later years, probably homosexual) husband! There are many different interpretations of the relationship Mary had with Bothwell (and yes, some say she was kidnapped, raped and forced into marriage). But in Immortal Queen, it is portrayed as the ultimate in passion. Bothwell anulled his current marriage so he could be free to wed the Queen. If you ask me, that is a pretty romantic gesture (or politically savvy, I know....but I see the romance in it). Mary finally got the love and lust she'd been waiting for her whole life.

4 comments:

  1. I'm reading a book now by Jane Feather that begins with Mary's beheading. It was greusome, and that's just the prologue! Chapter 1 goes back in time to before the heroine met her.

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  2. Oh, man...now you have me thinking, and I don't have a CLUE who my favorite heroine would be. I like all the ones who are strong and kind and goodhearted and don't particularly give a good damn what they look like. I guess I think that's most of us women, and we all make me proud.

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  3. Mary Queen of Scots! Always admired her. The beheading, oh God, it gives me the willies. Great post!

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  4. Great post. Really enjoyed the history lesson and made me curious to learn more about her.

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