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The Confessions of Catherine De Medici [Paperback]

CW Gortner
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good June 3 2010
By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Catherine de Medici is sent from her native Italy to marry Henri, the second son of François I. More interested in hunting and his older mistress Diane de Poitiers Henri has little interest in his wife, which makes it difficult for her to do her duty to be fruitful and multiply. Eventually Henri's older brother dies leaving him heir to France's throne and becomes king upon his father's death. Diane continues to wield greater influence over Henri, leaving Catherine in the proverbial dust heap - although Diane does encourage Henri to spend enough time with his wife to conceive the needed heirs. Upon Henri's death during a joust (no spoilers, that's known history), Catherine is able to come into her own as regent and fights tooth and nail for her children and to keep the Valois dynasty alive.

That's pretty much the quick run down - yes there's a whole lot to it than that but I am not into book reports - read it for yourself. I found this a quick, entertaining read and I really enjoyed seeing the "other Catherine" as Gortner found her instead of the spell-casting, have-drink-will-poison/slip-a-knife in your back all around baddie as history has led us to believe. While she did seem a bit too good for her own good at the beginning, once Catherine was *in charge* and fighting for her brood she was definitely a force to be reckoned with and I had a hard time putting the book down.

I appreciated how well the author wrote the events leading up to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and the continuing conflicts between the Catholics and the Huguenots as well as the intrigues between the royal family, Guise and Henry of Navarre. This is a complicated period and he handled it quite well without dumbing it down for the reader - thank you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Catherine de' Medici (1519 - 1589) was born in Florence, Italy, to Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne, Countess of Boulogne. Both parents died within weeks of her birth.

In 1533, aged 14, Catherine was married to Henri, the second son of François I, King of France. In 1547, Henri became King of France (as Henri II) and Catherine was Queen Consort from 1547 to 1559. On the death of Henri II, Catherine played a key role in the reigns of three of her sons as, in turn, each became King of France.

In this novel, Mr Gortner moves beyond the known historical facts to tell Catherine's story, in her own voice: from her difficult life in Florence; through the challenges of her marriage to Henri where she was largely overshadowed by Henri's long standing mistress Diane de Poitiers; and then her role in the reigns of her sons during an age of almost constant religious and civil war in France.

The Catherine de' Medici given life on these pages is tenacious and witty, is flexible and able to compromise, and is determined to save the Valois monarchy in France. She is a passionate woman, overshadowed, if not overawed, by Diane de Poitiers. After the death of Henri II, she tries to protect the Valois monarchy from the ambitions of the nobility and the conflict between the Catholics and the Huguenots leading to the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572.

I enjoyed this novel for its more positive portrayal of Catherine de' Medici and presentation of the challenges she faced. Catherine de' Medici is one of the most controversial, maligned and feared women ever to be queen, and most fiction portrays her in this light.

`The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Read Aug. 26 2011
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is about the life of the French queen and her reign over France. It is written somewhat like a personal diary of the queen. It is C. W. Gortner's second novel. I thought it was a good read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed Oct. 29 2013
By D. Rose
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one male author who should not venture writing as a woman. It read like a romance novel and I found it very disappointing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Novel June 17 2013
By granny4
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This author appears to be a little kinder to Catherine de Medici than most. It does take you into the intrigue of the period and most specifically the ruling houses of France.
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