In her own poignant words, Lady Mary recounts her strange and haunting story: a happy childhood in merry England under King Charles II, her dark and lonely years in Holland, and the upheavals that brought her home once more as England's honored queen. Hers is a richly royal story, with kings and queens, princesses and princes, playing their noble or shameful roles upon Europe's brilliant stage. Among these towering figures Lady Mary's lot had been cast, among them she would grow strong or perish....
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Jean Plaidy writes about William and Mary from the Jacobite point of view and that ensures her portrayal of William will be unsympathetic. Dutch historian Wout Troost in "William III, the Stadholder-King" writes that "William was an extremely reserved, reticent person who revealed his innermost feelings only to a small circle of intimates. . . . This dispassionate and inaccessible character led many outsiders to think him a cold fish. But essentially the Prince was a sensitive, emotional man who did everything he could to conceal his true feelings." Alison Plowden in “Stuart Princesses” provides a sympathetic assessment of William III: “it was the private man Mary had loved, affectionate, caring, domesticated, quite often funny, sometimes infuriating, capable of inspiring true devotion in his friends and dependants; the man in whom there remained more than a trace of the lonely little boy at Leiden who had cried so bitterly for his mother. . ." Plaidy’s William III is a one-dimensional caricature that bears no resemblance to the real William III of Orange. I don't care for Plaidy's portrayal of Mary either. She may not have been pleased with her marriage when it was announced, but a few months later when William left to join the army, her attitude was quite different. Being parted from William she felt was much worse than leaving England. In fact, she grew to love her life in the Dutch Republic and regretted having to leave in 1689, knowing she, unlike William, would never return. As a staunch Protestant, she supported her husband in his struggle against Louis XIV and she was very active in efforts to help the Protestants refugees who sought sanctuary in the Dutch Republic. Mary believed her father was trying to force England to become a Catholic country and she supported her husband’s invasion although it was difficult for her. She wrote that William “has seen my tears and has compassion on me.” When they said their goodbyes before he sailed for England the first time, Mary wrote “he showed me all the tenderness I could desire, so much that I shall never in my life forget it.” William and Mary's marriage certainly had its problems, but over time their love grew and deepened. As Mary was dying of smallpox, William wrote a close friend that he must know what William was going through, "loving her as I do". William's grief at Mary's death was so overwhelming, it was feared he would die too. Later when he was told the people wished him to remarry, his response was that the people may have forgotten the queen, but he hadn't. I don't feel this novel does justice to either Mary or William. It is nothing but Jacobite propaganda.