Disclaimer: Review copy courtesy of Endeavour Press (via Netgalley)
Marjorie Bowen was Philippa Gregory before Philippa Gregory was.
If you know what I mean.
According to the opening pages of this book, the Queen’s Caprice was first published in 1933. The only that this really shows is the characterization of a sexual woman as being an evil woman.
Now, before you get the wrong message, the book is actually good. I didn’t think it was great, but I am sure some people I am friends with will enjoy this book.
The Queen’s Caprice is about Mary Queen of Scots starting from the negotiations of marriage upon her return to Scotland. It ends before her flight to England. The central characters besides Mary, Darnley, and Rizzo, are Maitland and Moray.
Bowen’s Mary is a character constructed with some sympathy even though she is at best a spoiled witch. It should be noted that the book was written when popular scholarship had a different view of Mary Queen of Scots. Despite this, Bowen doesn’t paint her as Gregory does Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I. Mary might be a bit of a slut, but there is a sense of Bowen challenging the view of a sexual woman, perhaps slightly. There are few conversations between Moray and Maitland that portray them as far less than ideal heroes or as cold fish. Additionally, Darnley is not just a victim or a fool but something else.
What is most enjoyable about this book is something that many NYT Bestselling Authors have trouble doing. The book is, at times, sensual without being graphic. It doesn’t have the relatively graphic love scenes that make their way into books like Gregory’s but the idea of Mary as a sensual being is done very well. It was rather enjoyable to read that.
Another huge plus is the rather perfect ending. I can just see Bowen writing it and then smiling.