Daughters of the North

Jean Gordon and Mary, Queen of Scots

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Pub Date 17 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 17 Mar 2022

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Description

Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to the Earl of Bothwell is notorious. Less known is Bothwell’s first wife, Jean Gordon, who extricated herself from their marriage and survived the intrigue of the Queen’s court.

Daughters of the North reframes this turbulent period in history by focusing on Jean, who became Countess of Sutherland: the most powerful woman in the north.

Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to the Earl of Bothwell is notorious. Less known is Bothwell’s first wife, Jean Gordon, who extricated herself from their marriage and survived the intrigue of the...


Advance Praise

'In this richly woven tapestry, Henderson shows us the workings of the sophisticated and brutal power play which underpinned lives both privileged and precarious - and probably still does.’ -Sarah Fraser

‘A sweeping yet intricately researched tale of 16th century Scotland.’ -S.G. MacLean

‘This fascinating tale gives an intriguing insight into how resourceful women in 16th century Scotland had to be in order to survive. Jean Gordon was no exception and her story is beautifully told in this absorbing book.’ -Sue Lawrence

'In this richly woven tapestry, Henderson shows us the workings of the sophisticated and brutal power play which underpinned lives both privileged and precarious - and probably still does.’ -Sarah...


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ISBN 9781913207755
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Featured Reviews

Daughters of the North by Jennifer Morag Henderson is a great nonfiction that gives us an in-depth portrait of Jean Gordon, the Earl of Bothwell’s first wife. Just fascinating!

I have read so much about Mary Queen of Scots and her ill-fated marriage to the Earl of Bothwell has always been shrouded in question for me. But the focus of this book is his first wife, who definitely seemed to escape the downward spiral of a hot mess that was to become his future.

I loved learning more about this formidable woman who later became the Countess of Sutherland within her second marriage and then finally being reunited with the love of her life for her third.

But her life isn’t just fascinating because of her marriages. The Gordon family has plenty of power, activity, action, and drama that adds so many facets to the story. Finding out all of the connections between this family and the Regency was impressive.

Jean was a woman of intelligence, passion, loyalty, wit, and made smart personal and professional decisions that helped raise and secure her own family and offspring for generations to come. When so many associated with the throne were imprisoned, exiled, murdered, and fell upon hard times, Jean and her children were able to come out alright.

Through this stunning book, with a beyond impressive amount of research submitted, I was able to learn so much more regarding Scotland in the 16th century.

5/5 stars enthusiastically

Thank you NG and Sandstone Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 5/17/22.

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Daughter of the North by Jennifer Morag Henderson

Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to the Earl of Bothwell is notorious. Less known is Bothwell’s first wife, Jean Gordon, who extricated herself from their marriage and survived the intrigue of the Queen’s court.
Daughters of the North reframes this turbulent period in history by focusing on Jean, who became Countess of Sutherland: the most powerful woman in the north.
I really enjoyed educating myself through the meticulous research of a very interesting but little known about Jean Gordon by this author .
I feel you can tell the author had a deep fascination for Jean by the depth of knowledge and the wonderful way she has shared her research. A great read.

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The title is a little misleading as it implies this is a shared biography of Mary Queen of Scots and Jean Gordon, the first wife of Bothwell (Mary's third husband), whereas actually this focuses on Jean, her Gordon family and a wider history of the Highlands. That's fine, and there is a section that takes place in and around the Scottish court but putting Mary's portrait on the front cover plays up her importance whereas the book does the opposite, taking Gordon, often a mere footnote to Mary's story in Scotland, and makes her the centre. The story stretches from 1545 to 1629, a turbulent time in Scottish history.

Henderson confesses upfront to not being a trained historian but she has clearly consulted many primary sources - she also takes imaginative leaps into what Jean and other characters are thinking and feeling which I felt was fine given she'd acknowledged this methodology up front.

I have wanted to learn more about Jean Gordon since first reading the 'casket sonnets', problematically attributed to Mary, and placing the two women in a triangular relationship to Bothwell and in that sense this book met my needs. It's long and the story falls away slightly towards the end but overall this is immensely readable, even gripping at times.

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Well-researched and well-written; "Daughter's of the North" is absolutely absorbing and reads in one sitting.

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A big thank-you to Jennifer Morag Henderson, Sandstone Press, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
To write a fascinating book on Mary, the Queen of Scotts, is not an easy task as this is one of the most popular historic figures who appears both in fiction and scholarly studies. Ms Henderson's idea was to get us closer another woman whose life was closely interwoven with that of the Queen's, Jean Gordon, of one of the most powerful Scottish families, married to the Earl of Bothwell.
Jean Gordon's life was as fascinating as the Queen's and both women were bound by a man who never compromised and was brutal in many ways.
Having read several books on Mary the Queen, I was again captivated by this tragic figure and it was all due to great writing and a lot of insight and information that I seemed to have missed in other books. Jean Gordon was very near the Queen, though not her ally or confidante and she appears as strong-headed and with good survival instincts in the complicated world of Scottish politics in the 16th century.
The book is worth all the time it takes to read it and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

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Jean was rather a unique figure - by the later 16th century, women had begun to have agency within the local economy and were able to wield some influence in their own circles. For Jean - the circle was always the family, and those linked by blood or marriage, were drawn and held tightly within. Even in her 70s, Jean was still seen as a person who had the potential to be influential, someone powerful who needed to be controlled, as she had a strong belief in what was due to her family and actively and steadfastly promoted her family interests.

Aged in her 80s when she died, Jean had outlived all her brothers and sisters, all three of her husbands, four of her children, two queens, and one king. As matriarch of the Gordon family, she was the glue that held it all together, and on her passing, it collapsed in a heap around the remaining family members.

Henderson brings her extensive research to the fore in crafting a highly readable narrative around a woman who lived during a tumultuous time in Scottish history. The reader will be amazed and in awe of this incredible woman, who story was deserving of being told in its own right.

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A captivating biography of Jean Gordon, the Earl of Bothwell’s first wife and a fascinating look at the history of the Highlands during the 16th century.

Very well researched and full of fascinating historical details, this highly accomplished
biography manages also to give the reader a vast and colorful tapestry of the very tumultuous Scottish politics under the reign of Queen Mary.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Sandstone for this terrific ARC

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This book focuses on Jean Gordon, first wife of Earl of Bothwell, the same Earl whom Mary, the queen of Scott's married. Honest and historical in nature, this brings out to the readers heer story and her importance.

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After reading many novels about the main players who dominate this era, it is refreshing to read about some of the more peripheral figures. Very enjoyable!

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