The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner – Book Review

The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner

Catherine de Medici’s early life was rocky. She was orphaned mere weeks after her birth, then at 8 was forcibly placed in a hostile convent when Medici power was overthrown in Florence. Finally, at 11, she was able to go live with her uncle, Pope Clement VII. Rome having recently been sacked by the troops of King Charles of Spain, Clement saw Catherine as an opportunity to cement an alliance with France by wedding her to Henry, second son of King Francois.

Unfortunately, Catherine and Henry didn’t exactly have a fairy tale marriage, since he was far more interested in his nursemaid-turned-mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Catherine’s early denigration at Henry’s neglectful hands require her to become politically savvy and crafty, a trait that will serve her well when she has to advise her son the King – or will it.

I’ve loved C.W. Gortner’s writing since his debut novel, “The Last Queen.” One of my favorite things about him is that he does not simply write the same story that is already dominating the shelves, but chooses amazingly strong and misunderstood women in history, women whose stories are still fresh to the reader. Catherine de Medici is no exception. A patron of Nostradamus, Catherine’s mythology includes a woman who practices dark magic and planned the massacre of France’s Huguenots in the St. Bartolomew’s Day Massacre.

Gortner’s Catherine knows what it is to be persecuted for who you are from the days when the Medicis were overthrown in Florence, and accordingly she actually has a good deal of sympathy for the plight of the Huguenots and advocates a measure of religious tolerance. When conflict between the Catholics and Protestants begins to threaten her familys reign, however, she is forced to take action.

A good half of “Confessions of Catherine de Medici” focused on the conflict between the Catholics and Huguenots, leading up to and following the St. Bartolomew’s Day Massacre. This could have perhaps been overkill, but Gortner made it work very well. I never felt that I’d been reading the same thing over and over, but he kept the story moving forward, even though it was progressing through one main source of conflict.

I highly recommend “The Confessions of Catherine de Medici,” and I can only hope that Gortner is hard at work on another book!

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2010

7 comments to The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner – Book Review

  • This would have been a good book to read before I went to Florence this past March!

  • My mom just sent this one on to me – I can’t wait to read it! I also really enjoyed The Last Queen so I’ve been looking forward to Gortner’s next book ever since.

  • This one is next on my list. He is working on another book – about Queen Isabella of Castille.

  • Sounds wonderful. Thanks for the great review.

  • I’ve been meaning to read Gortner for years now. I better get on that, this sounds really good! Great review Jen!

  • I just skimmed this because I’m halfway though this book. Loving it so far. I already had The Last Queen on my TBR list but when I got the chance to read this one first I didn’t hesitate and I’m glad I didn’t. I really love the way the story flows and I’m learning a lot about a woman who has been a peripheral character in many other historical fiction books I’ve read.

    I adore well written historical fiction that makes me head to my computer to look up more about the people and places. Of course, that’s also why I don’t read historical fiction quickly – too many detours to Google.

  • Astrid

    Thanks for the great review. It sounds like Gortner’s newest book is well worth waiting to read. I loved THE LAST QUEEN and have been looking forward to this book ever since. @Cycling_Chef