Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review-The Confessions of Catherine De Medici, by C. W. Gortner

C.W.Gortner, Ballantine Books, 2010, $25.00, hb, 416pp, 978-0-345-50186-8

Catherine Medici came to the French court as a reluctant princess: young and naive, and yet somehow she knew her destiny was to guide France to glory. She was the last legitimate descendant of Lorenzo de Medici, she carried her pride well. It is written she had a gift, the second sight and with this and her consults with the infamous Nostradamus, Catherine was guided to act. After her husbands death, her mediocrity faded and she gained increasing power. She emerged an astute formidable and shrewdly confident regent, who maintained a tenacious hold on governing France during her time. Religious tolerance was her mantra and the survival of France was paramount.

To know Catherine, the reader must understand her culture, social life, and children. Romance eluded her with the exception of her often overlooked friendship with Coligny, the Protestant leader who she would later hunt down. The chasm between the followers of Calvin, the Huguenot heretics and the Catholic’s who were the dominant power is historically important to her life’s story. Gortner interweaves this pivotal complex issue into the story bringing with it clear understanding.

Gortner’s story provides a compelling and fascinating view of Catherine’s life and world, her world being France. The reader will empathize with Catherine, will ache for her and sometimes recoil in disgust when her actions become too extreme. The details and the chronology of historical events told as Catherine’s confessions in first person narrative are personal and emotionally realistic. When Hercule, her crippled son is drawing his last breath, the scene is woefully tragic, so beautifully penned, that the passage will beseech tears. You will devour this read desperate to satiate your curiosity. The writing is as illuminating and powerful as the character of this infamous legend known as Catherine de Medici. Highly recommended without a doubt!

As published in Historical Novels Review: May 2010-Editor's Choice
Disclosure: This book was sent to me by HNR for book review.


Ladytink_534 said...

I vaguely know some things about Catherine de Medici but I don't believe I've ever read anything about her before.

Serena said...

I'm just starting this book and already love the writing and the story.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh. I have been wanting to read this one. You and I definitely share very similar literary tastes! Thanks for the great review.

Iliana said...

I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! Great review, Wisteria. Sounds like the book has a bit of everything. I have this one my stack for the book tour and can't wait. I read his other book The Last Queen and it was one of my favorite reads last year.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This would be an educational read for me as I really don't know much about the Medicis at all.

Literary Feline said...

Your review is tempting me to rush out and find a copy of this one. I love historical fiction, but haven't been reading a lot of it lately. I need to get back to it.

wisteria said...

She was an amazing women. If you like historical fiction, read this one for sure.
Serena..Can't wait to hear what you think. I just went out and bought his other book The Last Queen.
The Lit Witch..I agree..and so this is a must read for you. LOL
Ilianna..I went out and bought The Last Queen because I liked his writing so much. Glad you liked it, now I know I will.
Diane-Strangely, there is another one out about Catherine de Medici I just saw in Borders..forgot the name.
Literary Feline...This would be a great read to get you back to h-fiction. LOL How are the fur babies?