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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner


The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner
ARC, Hardcover, 397 pages
Ballantine Books
May 25, 2010
★★★★☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Publisher for HFBRT Event for May
At the age of fourteen, Catherine de Medici, last legitimate descendant of the Medici blood, finds herself betrothed to the King Francois I’s son, Henri. Sent from her native Florence to France, humiliated and overshadowed by her husband’s life-long devotion to his mistress, when tragedy strikes her family Catherine rises from obscurity to become one of 16th century Europe’s most powerful women.

Patroness of Nostradamus and a seer in her own right, accused of witchcraft and murder by her foes, Catherine fights to save France and her children from savage religious conflict, unaware that her own fate looms before her—a fate that will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, reputation, and the passion of her own embattled heart. . .

From the splendors of the Loire palaces to the blood-soaked battles of the Wars of Religion and haunted halls of the Louvre, this is the story of Catherine’s dramatic life, told by the queen herself.
This book follows Catherine from her life as a young girl in Italy, until the very end of her life in France. She is the daughter of the wealthy Medici family, but when she comes to France she is that Italian girl that no one really pays attention to. This is something she has to fight against her entire life.

I really enjoyed how Gortner presented Catherine. She is humanized, with passions, fears, and a soul. She cares about her children, desperately loves the husband who doesn’t love her back, and believes in the predictions of a man named Nostradamus. I think Gortner shows Catherine’s vulnerability and human side through the title of his book – a confession. About halfway through the book you begin to understand why this book is titled this way. To mimic a popular song that would describe Catherine perfectly, “these are my confessions”.

One of the things that was very new to me was the Huguenots vs. Catholics battle. I knew that there have always been conflicts between the two, but had never read anything about them. This part of the story, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, was very exciting and I didn’t really know where it would go. Catherine was constantly in such difficult situations.

I loved getting to know all of the children of Catherine and Henri. I really think my favorite was their son Henri – he was the most constant to Catherine. On the other hand, her daughter Margot, was so bad, and constantly a thorn in Catherine’ side, very sly that one was. And my hatred for Diane de Poitiers continued in this book. I just can’t stand how much she got in the way of Catherine and Henri’s marriage – she was so controlling.

If you have read the Jean Plaidy trilogy about Catherine, I’m not sure if you will enjoy this book as much as you would if you haven’t. I have read the first in her series, Madame Serpent, and I didn’t feel like I had read anything new in the first third of Confessions. I can’t attest to anything beyond the first book.

A great new book from C. W. Gortner. I haven’t had the chance to get to The Last Queen yet, but if this book is any indication of how Gortner handles maligned women, I can’t wait to read it. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

You can always watch this wonderful trailer to hold you over if you haven't had the chance to get the book yet.


Also today on HFBRT:

Other books I reviewed by this author:


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

7 comments:

  1. Great review Heather! I haven't read the first book by C W Gortner either but have it sitting on my TBR shelf. I really enjoyed your this in depth review and I will purchase this one as well.

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  2. This is one book that I simply cannot wait to get my pre-ordered hands on! C.W Gortner is such a great story teller. Thanks for this great review - makes reading the book even more tantalizing!

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  3. Thank you, Heather, for this insightful review; I'm honored to be here as part of the HFBRT event and I sincerely hope your readers enjoy my new book.

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  4. Thanks for a interesting review. From what you have said, it encompasses many of the reasons I read and enjoy historical fiction. My first preference, almost a requirement is that the book be historically accurate. Many books are good fiction, but many authors take common knowledge and use that as their factual basis for the story. Mr. Gortner has gone the extra mile to make sure he is presenting an evenhanded picture of the woman and her time. I look forward to reading this book and his other one.

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  5. Great review Heather! I too loved meeting all of their children...all 8 of them!!! And Margot was my favorite as well...just as headstrong as her mother!

    You better get to reading The Last Queen - you're gonna love it!

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  6. Great review Heather! I can't wait to read this one! And I haven't read The Last Queen yet either. I have really wanted to, but haven't had the money to buy it. =O(

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  7. Good job Heather, I too was new to the whole Hugenot aspect. Gortner has a gift for humanizing his ladies. You HAVE to read The Last Queen it was such a good read by far one of my favortite books.

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