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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici...Review

About the book:
The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

 The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, 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 as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and 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. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms before her—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris,
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.

I've seen such glowing reviews of this book and while it was promising, I just expected something different. The book is well researched, but the author takes liberties and much of the story is, understandably, speculation.  Historically, Catherine's story is rich and mythical with much suspense, intrigue and sorrow.  She was a strong, enigmatic woman who fought hard for what she believed in.  I found the inside peek into royalty fascinating:  children married off at early ages simply for political reasons, mistresses who exert incredible influence and the early deaths of so many.  The explanations and descriptions of the conflict between the Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants) was interesting, but ultimately dragged the story down and I finally just had to skim a lot of parts.

I don't normally force myself to finish books I don't like, and I wish I'd just set this one aside when I was first tempted to do so. The tone of the book didn't set well with me for some reason and there was too much sex for my reading tastes.  Many others enjoyed the book and you can find more positive reviews at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time, Cafe of Dreams, and Booking Mama.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/10

1/5 Stars