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The First Marie: and the Queen of Scots    by Linda Root order for
First Marie
by Linda Root
Order:  USA  Can
CreateSpace, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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*   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

This book gives evidence of much research and loving production, with beautiful graphics and character sketches made by the author. It is, however, more than 700 pages long, which will prevent many from attempting it.

The title, The First Marie: and the Queen of Scots, provides a clue to one difficulty. Who is the real heroine of this novel? While the story seems to be about one of the four Maries, later called Mally, who spent much of her life as a companion to Mary, Queen of Scots, it is also very much a story of the latter’s life. So this dilutes the plot (and multiplies the pages) because we must refocus as the primary character changes from Mary to Mally and back. All the intrigues surrounding Mary, while valuable for the author as background material, are really not necessary for the reader, unless our focus is Mary.

In that case, Mary’s story gets too thin in the last third of the book where there is very little about her exile, imprisonment, trial and death in England. Since it is really the romance of William Maitland and Mally, especially with all their intrigues on behalf of the queen and Scotland that keep us enthralled, we do not need all the unique side stories and characters that pertain to Mary. It would have been wonderful, for example, to have lots more about Maitland, whom Queen Elizabeth called 'the flower of the wits of Scotland.'

It helps that the dialog is very sprightly and feels right for the time, but some of the descriptions and psychological explanations seem too contemporary. The copy is still quite raw with lots of misspellings and sentences that need work. Despite these flaws, first-time author Root writes a gripping story that catches us in its spell. Fans of Mary Stuart will want to add this to their collection, and it needs to be added to the collection on the Marie Stuart Society’s web page.

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