Escape from Loch Leven by Mollie Hunter was first published in 1987 and it’s about one of the many escapes attempted by Mary, Queen of Scots after she was imprisoned by her own Scottish lords who had turned against her for many reasons, including that they believed she had had her first husband Darnley murdered, and then married his murderer Bothwell.
But she was still popular with the ordinary people and always managed to charm some of the people who were tasked with guarding and serving her – mainly the men!
Will Douglas is the young illegitimate son of Sir William Douglas who is a supporter of the rebellion against Mary. Sir William owns Lochleven Castle which seems like the ideal place to imprison the queen as it’s in the middle of the loch. Will is a page in the household and he’s thrilled when Mary recognizes him as a youngster she had encountered a few years earlier and calls him by a pet name she had given him. In no time Will is determined to help his Queen escape to link up with her supporters. It’s easier said than done.
The book seems to be very faithful to what is known about this particular escape attempt which you can read about here. Lochleven Castle is now owned by the Scottish National Trust and isn’t far from where I live. If you’re interested you can see the photos I took when I visited a few years ago here. The island is actually smaller than it was back when Mary was a prisoner as the water level of the loch has been raised over the years, but even so it was still a very small island with very little opportunity for anyone to stretch their legs.
This was an enjoyable read and if you’re interested in Scottish history it’s a painless way of learning a bit about Mary Stuart and the book has some helpful family trees at the front for anyone who is confused.