The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
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. (Goodreads)
I absolutely loved The Last Queen when I read it and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed with this either!
Catherine de Medici is leaving Italy to marry Henry, second son of French King François I. But Henri is on love with his older mistress Diane de Poitiers and doesn’t seem to care about Catherine at all. She feels lonely but she does befriend the king. Things gets better after years of waiting she delivers a boy. But it’s only after Henri’s death she becomes to her power.
She fights hard to secure the crown for her son(s) and keeping the dynasty alive. We see her growing from naive girl to powerful woman with capacity for compassion and understanding. And who also knows how to make people fear.
I loved how Gortner describes St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and how Catherine is involved with it. And how the things got to that point.
I love how Gortner is able to humanize Catherine and to show there were reasons to what she did. She made mistakes but she tried to do her best. And it wasn’t easy juggling between Catholics and the Huguenots.
The only quibble I had was that I’d liked to have something on the author’s note about Catherine and Coligny. But that was the only thing.
I just loved this book and can’t wait to read more from him!
Published: Ballantine Books (2010)
Source: won at a giveaway