Forever etched in memory as a villain by Shakespeare’s play, the wife of the Scots King Macbeth is redeemed by Susan Fraser King’s portrayal in Lady Macbeth. The author breathes new life into the character of Lady Gruadh, nicknamed Rue in her childhood and relies heavily on historical details to flesh out the life of one of Scotland’s most enigmatic and maligned queens.
From Gruadh’s tragic beginnings, with the deaths of her siblings and mother, to her ill-fated first marriage, her ties to the Scottish crown weigh heavily upon her. Treachery abounds in the land as Vikings from the north, Saxons from the south and other Scottish lords set their sights on the crown. Union with the chieftain Gilcomgan of Moray places Gruadh at the center of conflict between her husband and Macbeth, who will do anything to regain his ancestral home at Moray. When Gilcomgan dies tragically in a fire, Gruadh marries Macbeth, despite knowing in her heart that he made her a widow and left her newborn son Lulach fatherless. She recognizes Macbeth’s true ambitions and despises him, but in time, Gruadh comes to understand her role in his life and in Scottish history. Through further tragedy and betrayal, Gruadh and Macbeth scale the heights of power in their quest to unite Scotland against its enemies.
I highly recommend Lady Macbeth to readers of historical fiction, lovers of Scottish history and those who want to be transported on an engrossing journey to the past. Ms. King truly brings to life a time where kings and queens shaped the destiny of their countries through intrigue and skilled maneuvering. The historical detail is rich, with well-known figures interspersed among a myriad of characters. In her portrayal of Lady Gruadh, King strips away the myths and legends surrounding a woman much maligned by history to reveal a queen who was foremost, a dutiful mother and a true partner to her husband.