Saturday, July 4, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

I spent last weekend at the Historical Novel Society’s North American Conference in Denver. I think there were over 400 people there! For anyone who loves historical fiction, I can’t recommend this society or this conference highly enough.

I didn’t come away with the enormous book haul that I usually do because I’m so far behind in my TBR pile. Still, I couldn’t resist adding a couple new ones to the pile.

One new addition that I started on the plane ride home was The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner. After enjoying Mademoiselle Chanel so much, I knew I’d have to delve into his earlier novels that deal with characters from medieval/Renaissance time periods. This novel did not disappoint.

Catherine is the last of the famous/infamous of the Medici line. Brought up to redeem their fallen fortunes, she is wed to the son of the king of France–the second son, but the first son is sickly and so...

Catherine does become dauphine. However, she has obstacles to overcome. Her husband is enamored of his longstanding mistress, Diane de Poitiers. And he is a surrounded by a cadre of friends/advisors who look upon her as an Italian of no account.

Through patience, persistence, and with the help of second sight and her own advisor, Nostradamus, she is able to slowly win over her husband’s acceptance and build a life as his wife and consort. The necessary children follow and become the center of her world.

Catherine is determined to build a strong legacy in France for her sons. Unfortunately, France is in the midst of a religious upheaval with Catholics and Huguenots at each other’s throats. Moreover, all of Europe is engulfed in the same conflict, hampering Catherine’s attempts to build political alliances with Spain and England. And, if she might have a chance to find love herself, religion and politics interfere.

The novel provides a wonderful blend of history and exploration into the psyche of a complex, fascinating woman. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read!