"The Green Lady" by Sue Lawrence is a delight to read. A work of fiction, based on historical fact, it charts the life of four women living in privileged circumstances in sixteenth century Scotland, but whose lives are far from idyllic. A woman's role in that time and place was to produce male heirs and there is no one more wanting of an heir than the ruthlessly ambitious Andrew Seaton. Nephew of Mary Seaton, one of the four Marys - ladies-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots - Andrew is also the Queen's godson.
Andrew Seaton works tirelessly to enhance his position and status in society. He takes his first wife, Lilias, when he is 30 and she is still a girl of 15. Once installed in beautiful Fyvie Castle her role becomes clear, she is to produce a male heir, but she only ever gives birth to girls, five in total. In his eyes she is obviously to blame, so Alexander Seton contemplates drastic action to secure the son and heir he craves.
The story of "The Green Lady" is told from the perspectives of Seaton's aunt and wives, interspersed with the story of a young 21st century woman who spends one summer at Fyvie Castle. The time shifts between the different people and places work well. The story flows easily, coming together to create a satisfying, if, from most of the characters' perspectives, not ideal conclusion. The reader gets a real sense of the women involved. They have well rounded personalities and the interactions they each have with Andrew Seton serve to paint a clear picture of their relationships with him and of his with them.
Having read Sue Lawrence's "The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange", I had high expectations for "The Green Lady" and was not disappointed. The settings in the book are beautifully described and it was easy to visualise each scene and imagine the characters in those settings. The atmosphere builds and is maintained throughout the book, carried by each of the women in turn. Excellent!