The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
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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.
Well, I have to say that I'm glad I had the chance to read this book, because it's amazing. Before reading this novel, I knew nothing of Catherine de Medici. To make sure that I have a vague idea of what I'm reading, I googled about Catherine de Medici. Turns out, she's a prominent historical figure in France. To be precise, she's the mother of the last three Valois kings of France, a major force in French politics during the 30 years of Roman Catholic-Huguenot wars and the instigator of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Her acts earned her the nicknames of Madame La Serpente and The Black Queen among many others.
At a young age, Catherine de Medici was married off to King Henry II of France. She was optimistic towards her new life in her newly-adopted country, but her optimism did not last for long when she realized that her husband had no interest in her at all and preferred to shower favours on his chief mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who was about twice his age. Even though her husband never neglected their utmost duty - to produce heirs to the throne, she was overwhelmed by loneliness and sadness when she learned that to him, she was merely a breeding mare and nothing else.
After her husband died, Catherine acted as the regent on behalf of her son and held great power. However, she feared that the noble figures in court would trigger an uprising to overthrow the current ruler of France - the royals. She constantly faced complex and daunting problems - the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants being the main problem. Desperate to keep the Valois monarchy on the throne, she set various policies to ease the tension between the two conflicting parties in religion. However, when things got out of control, she was determined to protect the throne of France at all costs.
To many, she may seem to be the representation of evil itself, but The Confessions of Catherine de Medici deems otherwise. Under Gortner's expert pen, we see a hidden facade of the queen herself; we observe the heartaches, the pain, the despair and the sadness of a queen who struggles alone to defend the throne of France. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is a powerful appeal for the queen, who, with the burden of the throne of France on her shoulders, is forced to do what is best for the country - even if it means betraying her own heart.
C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.
He's currently at work on his third novel, about Isabella of Castile, and the second novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).
Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.