Trade Ed. Harper Audio 2004
CD ISBN $29.95 Five CDs
DD ISBN $20.97
[Editor’s Note: The following is a combined review with MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS AND THE MURDER OF LORD DARNLEY.]--In the national portrait gallery in Edinburgh, there once was a crudely painted portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. From one angle, one beheld a vision of a lovely woman; from the other the flesh peeled away and left only a grisly skeleton. That is the compelling dichotomy that has bewitched centuries of scholars and history buffs. Mary is the subject of two distinguished, but also distinctly different, recent biographies. Alison Weir attacks the central mystery of Mary’s life--the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley--and sets the stage for an eventful night in Edinburgh with meticulous detail. The house where Darnley is staying is blown to bits, and his unscathed body is found nearby, apparently flung free in the blast. Davina Porter narrates masterfully, conveying the gruffness of Scots lords and the lilt of Mary’s more musical and feminine voice. The intricacies of court intrigue are rendered more coherent through her characterizations, and this truly scholarly work becomes accessible to a broader audience through her skill. Weir and Porter’s queen is a highly emotional and intelligent woman of intrigue. John Guy reads his compelling Queen of Scots himself, bringing his years of experience in lecture halls to this more intimate medium. His is the more complete biography, setting Mary squarely into a time that in turn sends her careening down her doomed path and into the popular imagination. Guy seems to understand his strengths as an audio performer and steers away from investing each character in the tableau with a unique voice. He delivers his captivating story in a clear, unadorned way, which neither adds to nor detracts from the spellbinding text. E.E.M. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/ NOV 04]
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