Especially beautiful quotes:
"For all these years, perhaps ever since the death of her first husband, she had been in someone else's way" (page 484). What a tragically beautiful truth, Mary had been surrounded her whole life by ruthlessly ambitious men who did not value her right as queen to rule.
"Mary herself was a mass of contradictions, but some qualities abided. She was glamorous, intelligent, gregarious, vivacious, kind, generous, loyal to her supporters and friends, and devoted to her Guise relations. whether or not they returned her love. She could be ingenious and courageous with the razor sharp wit, and never more animated and exuberant than when riding her horse at the head of her army wearing her steel cap.
But she had deep emotional needs. She expected love and needed to be loved. And to a large extent she got what she demanded: from her Guise family as a child, from her Maries as an adult, from her domestic servants and, until she married Bothwell, from her people, who were spellbound by her youth, beauty, and glamour. Maitland came closest to the marl when he predicted that the ordinary people of Scotland would be captivated by her merest smiles or frowns. But as queen she lacked the love of a partner, an equal, who could have bolstered her in her anxieties and tempered her impulsiveness. And this hunger for a partner, a husband, a king, led her to her most grotesque and uncharacteristic miscalculations.
Although her rank meant that she was never alone, loneliness must often have consumed her, and it was a sign of her emotional isolation during her later years that her pets became everything to her. Her final reckless throw of the dice in 1586, endorsing a madcap plot in which not even the motives of the principals were clear, is a reflection of her desperation" (pages 496-497).
And this one sums up my thoughts best:
"But to let the end of her life overshadow the whole is an injustice. The odds were stacked against her from the beginning" (page 499).
Truly, Mary never stood a chance against all of these forces who continued to put their interests ahead of her own, even as she was the sovereign ruler of Scotland. She was their queen and they did everything they could to bring her down. Though, there is some solace in this:
"Her victory was more conclusive than even she might have dared hope, because every subsequent British ruler has been descended from her, and all derive their claim to the throne from her and not Elizabeth" (page 489). So there, Elizabeth!
All in all, this is an amazing biography. John Guy has done a wonderful job dispelling all the abhorrent myths and rumors that have run wild in the last 400 years. It is definitely not for the casual reader who has no background knowledge of Mary or her turbulent world, as it runs 500 pages, not including the notes. Still, if you have the interest, by all means, go for it. Highly recommended.