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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My review of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner.

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A NovelAbout the book:

The truth is, not one of us is innocent. We all have sins to confess. 

So reveals Catherine de Medici, the last legitimate descendant of her family’s illustrious line. Expelled from her native Florence, Catherine is betrothed to Henri, son of Fran├žois I of France. In an unfamiliar realm, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children in a kingdom torn apart by the ambitions of a treacherous nobility. Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons, unaware that if she is to save France, she may have to sacrifice her ideals, her reputation, and the secret of her embattled heart.

My review:

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici was fascinating to say the least, and extremely well written, much to my delight. The prose was almost lyrical at times. I was impressed with how much I learned about the historical queen and her family. The author made that era come alive without boring me with the many details that are needed to describe what took place in history. He really brings her trials and triumphs to life and did so in a way that made sense to me. I kept forgetting that the author was a man. He portrayed a woman's mindset so well in his description of Catherine's life and in her inner dialog. The queen regent's desire for peace was admirable, but her many compromises along the way caused nothing but further heartache. Being a regent in those days was a formidable task as so many lives depended on every decision made. Again, a fascinating and engrossing tale all around.

I've always found the time period in European history when religious persecution took place very intriguing. It seemed like there was an endless need for killing which flipped from one side to the other on a regular basis. It was a crazy generation to live in and a very bloody time as well. It's amazing that Europe survived it. The Protestant Reformation has always fascinated me because despite persecution in both directions it managed to survive and leave a legacy that exists to this day. The author did a great job at showing how complex the politics of the day were and how betrayal occurred on so many levels. I found it sad that Catherine believed her son Henri would be the one to keep the dynasty going only to discover that he would never have an heir for reasons she never saw coming. So many in her family died or were murdered. Again, quite sad. By book's end I felt like I understood a character in history that I knew very little about prior to reading this novel. I highly recommend it.

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici was published by Ballantine Books and release in May 2011.

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