Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

TITLE:    The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel
AUTHOR:    C.W. Gortner
INFO:    Paperback, Fiction,  418 pages
PUBLISHED:  Ballantine Books , 2011
SOURCE:   Received from Publisher for Review and Book Tour  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.

MY TAKE:    I became a major fan of C.W. Gortner's a while back when I had a chance to review The Tudor Secret.  His skill in manipulating words to draw the reader in and keep them glued to a story is impressive.  Intensive research is also very apparent in his books as he brings his characters to life and makes them relatable to modern readers.  Fans of historical fiction as well as those who enjoy great writing will love his books.

That first line in the intro grabbed me and held on to the very last page: 

The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess. 

I admit that I knew absolutely nothing about Catherine de Medici before reading this book and that line is a fantastic hook.  I wanted to know more.  Because of the fascinating story that Mr. Gortner has created, I found myself looking things up about her both during and after reading the book.  To me this is a sign that an author has done his job well - he's entertained, educated and peaked my interest to learn more about his subject. 

I've mentioned before that I'm a Tudor buff.  I enjoy reading about that era and the people that lived in it.  It was very refreshing for me to become completely engrossed in a story that was happening at the same time and included many of the same characters, but wasn't about the Tudors. I had of course, heard of Catherine de Medici, but didn't have a clue how she fit into history.  It was quite enlightening to find out just how big of a role she played and how many other "big names in history" she was associated with.  The fact that she was a friend of Nostradamus and used his skills to aid her decisions was unexpected.  Her reputation as an evil ruthless queen who dealt in the black arts and poisoning may have been blown out of proportion.  This book may help shed light on some of these issues and give the reader a better understanding of this powerful woman.

The author has taken historical facts and turned this story into an entertaining tale.  He brings out the entire range of emotions when it comes to Catherine.  You begin with the empathy and tears as Catherine is taken from a privileged life to one of despair and cruelty.  You then cheer for her as she is rescued and goes back to a life of ease, for a while.  Mr. Gortner makes it very easy to see where this woman developed her steel backbone.  I would imagine she was a bit of a scary lady if you crossed her.  It's also clear why she did many of the things she did to protect her own children.   I am just really really glad that this woman was not MY mother-in-law.  I am very happy with the one I have. 
I highly recommend this book. It now has a place on my keeper shelf (next to The Tudor Secret). It was one of those books that I couldn't put down.  I had to keep going because I just had to know what happened next and next and...

Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:

WHERE TO BUY IT:    Amazon and The Book Depository

I'd like to thank Cheryl at Pump Up Your Books and the fabulous C.W. Gortner for including me on this tour. 

The Last Queen: A Novel  The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles)  The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

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~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.


  1. Thanks for the fabulous review of Christopher's book. I'm glad you enjoyed it. This is one of my favorites of his.


  2. I have enjoyed all the books by CW Gortner I have read, and this was no exception.


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