This is a fictional account of the real Margaret of Wessex who became Queen of the Scots in 1070. The author focuses on the early part of her marriage to Malcolm, King of Scots. The marriage was, by all historical accounts, a great love story and Malcolm was smitten at first sight of her, yet you won’t read about it here. Instead, there is a fondness that develops between them over time as Malcolm comes to admire his saintly queen.
The story begins in 1069 as Margaret and her family seek sanctuary in Scotland at the time the Conqueror is ravaging Northumbria. Margaret desired a convent life but it was not to be. According to this story, Malcolm ignored her for weeks after she came to his court but then decided to wed her. I found that hard to believe, a virile Scottish warrior ignoring a beautiful Saxon princess right before his eyes. Then, too, the description of Malcolm and Margaret’s wedding night was a dull moment that I just couldn’t quite see happening the way it was described given all we know about the two of them. But, ah well.
Malcolm was known to be illiterate and Margaret read to him; however, in this story he was reading treatises on law when she met him and she just taught him more. Margaret is portrayed as history records her: devout, smart and committed to seeing Scotland turn toward the Roman church. Though she was kind to her subjects, she did not appear to adopt the Scots’ culture. Instead, she gave her children decidedly English names and Malcolm went along with it, presumably to indulge his wife who brought him much honor.
Perhaps the most interesting character, at least to me, was Eva, the daughter of Macbeth's stepson and heir, Lulach, who was slain by Malcolm in order to gain the throne. Taken to Malcolm’s court as a hostage, Eva has spunk, dividing her loyalties between her family who wants her to spy for them and the queen she has befriended. I really liked Eva. She is the only other character whose perspective we have besides Margaret. We are never inside Malcolm’s head and he remains something of an enigma.
King’s attention to detail is laudable and she brings 11th century Scotland to life. It’s a fairly tame but well-told story of the Scot who married the woman who became Scotland’s only royal saint. We get to see how she might have been with those who served her and those she served for she was ever doing charitable acts. It proceeds at a leisurely pace and historical fiction lovers will find it a worthy read.
- Paperback: 357 pages
- Publisher: BROADWAY; 1 edition (1 March 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307452808
- ISBN-13: 978-0307452801
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 20.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)