Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

by C.W. Gortner

If you've followed me long you'll know my penchant for historical fiction, and particularly when it inclines me to do some digging on my own. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici was that kind of book for me and not only to get more facts on Catherine, but her husband, children allies and enemies. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings surrounding this queen, but a few things are definite, she was passionate about power, she had exact ideas and did not tolerate those who might not align with her perspective, she was ruthless, she was controversial and as long as she was behind the scenes there was no peace in France.

Written from a first person narrative, this story covers the entire life of Catherine de Medici, which is unusual as her own death approaches. This perspective allows much sympathy toward her decisions, which cost the lives of thousands of Protestants, some of her friends and possibly her two eldest sons. She explains away her involvement in astrology, her close ties to Nostradamus, her dabbling in sorcery and uses of poison all as means of protecting the country and children that she loved. True history buffs may be frustrated at how glossed-over her schemes, betrayals, murders and massacres are in this book, but it is in keeping with the frame of reference (her own).

If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Withe Queen, etc) you will like this read. The writing styles and approach is very similar. It leans a bit more to the romance than is my preference, but easy to read and interesting history. 

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