Spy for the Queen of Scots – Theresa Breslin

I love a bit of historical fiction (see post on Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly) As the title suggests the book is about the life of Mary Queen of Scots through the eyes of her lady in waiting Ginette – known to all as Jenny. After a brief prologue where we realise that Mary is about to be executed we go back in time to France where the young Mary is to be married to the king of France, Francis. They have a playful relationship which is overshadowed by the King’s mother Catherine de Medici. Jenny accidentally finds herself overhearing a conversation between Catherine and one of her courtiers and decides that she is in a good position to spy on the household to keep Mary safe. There is some romance with another courtier and Jenny, and as Mary is widowed and then travels to Scotland to take up her birth right we follow her.

I liked the feel of this book. It was interesting, factual and made the story of Mary really come alive. Mary’s relationship with Darnley, her second husband and then with the Earl of Bothwell who she went on the marry as well, was really interesting. What it’s easy to forget is that during all this Mary was really young. She was married three times, was crowned and gave birth all before she was 25. She then gives up the throne and goes to live in exile in England before Elizabeth realises she is too much of a threat (and she does keep organising plots so…) and has her executed. This is not a spoiler, it’s just history! The thing that the author does well is weave a fictional plot around the historical facts and makes it all seem much more interesting. If anything it just reminds us how lucky we are to be living in the 21st century and not in the age where men gave their daughters away at 6 months to the most available suitor.

Breslin also really accentuates the monarchies perception at the time that they were chosen by God and that the crown was their birth right. Mary is portrayed as really regal and loved by the Scottish people and makes as much effort as possible to look after them, like they are her children. In all the stuff written about Henry VIII he has the same kind of mentality; he was chosen by God to lead and no one can change that. Mary is portrayed as a little bit of a schemer but who, essentially wants to continue her family’s right to the crown because she feels it is her duty. She also makes bad life choices by marrying Darnley and Bothwell but, what can you do? If you love history, read this. It really makes it come alive.



Hello and welcome….

Hello, welcome to the first post of my blog – grownupscanreadteenfictiontoo.com! A bit of a mouthful I know but, hey it gets the point across! So, the first point of order has got to be, what classifies a book as YA or Young Adult? Secondly, why is this genre so popular? is it just that there is such a wealth material or does it just mean that young people can access more challenging fiction that is written specifically for them?

Well, therein lies the problem. Who is regarded as a Young Adult? according to Wikipedia it is any person aged between 12 and 18. Does that mean that if you aren’t in that age bracket then you can’t read them? Well the answer to that is a categorical no. In 2012, a US study revealed that 55% of YA books were purchased by people older than 18 – sometimes by a considerable margin.

Some books deal with sexuality, the LGBTQA+ section is growing by the week; there is a misery lit section to rival Jodi Picoult and the romance gives Barbara Cartland a run for her money but, throw them all together and you have got a gold mine.   Film tie-ins also generate a huge response, most teens I know need  to read the book as well as the film, a great money spinner for the author.

Obviously the most famous of these is JK Rowling and HP. Some say that JK is the foremother of all YA fiction and many authors that I have met cite her as the one that sparked the YA revolution. Certainly she was the first author who openly acknowledged that she was writing particularly for the teen market and the characters in her novels follow her audience as they grew through adolescence. A neat trick which ensures that she will never have to work again.

‘Many authors say they didn’t write their book specifically for a YA audience – either it was a marketing strategy decided upon by the publisher or the YA audience found the book on its own.’ (AbeBooks.co.uk)

As a fully grown up person I can safely say that there is something in there for everyone; even if you are over 18. So, read on and I promise you, there is a book out there for you and you might just learn something about how this generation of teens tick…