The year is 1537. Mary of Guise, young, beautiful and widowed, is the reluctant bride of James V, King of Scots. The marriage is arranged to strengthen the alliance between France and Scotland. On the border Henry VIII seeks a reason to invade. The Reformation is sweeping through Europe. In Scotland Mary finds a cultured, lively but quarrelsome court. She has to use all her wits to save her marriage and survive. Survive she does, to become the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. This is the second of Walkinshaw’s Scottish Reformation novels.
Janet Walkinshaw benefitted from an upsurge of interest in Scottish writing in the 1980s when her short stories began to be published in various anthologies. Since then her short stories and plays have also been broadcast on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. These were gathered together in her collection Long Road to Iona & Other Stories. When preparing the book for publication she was surprised to find how many of the stories are about running away, and she wonders whether this is the human condition. She has been able to indulge a lifelong obsession with history and in particular with the Reformation in her novel Knox’s Wife, in which she recounts the events of the Scottish Reformation through the eyes of the wife of the principal mover and shaker. This was meant to be a one-off, but she became so deeply engrossed in the 16th century and the people of the time that she has now published The Five Year Queen, a novel about Mary of Guise and her marriage to James V. Janet has now begun work on a third novel set in the same period. Janet considers herself fortunate to be living in Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town. ‘Everybody is an avid reader, and every second person you meet is a writer, so we are surrounded by congenial and like-minded people,’ she says.