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02 June 2010

Book Tour & Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

Title: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
Author: C.W. Gortner
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-0345501868
Genre: Historical Fiction

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From the Publisher:

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 Review:

Many books have offered an account of Catherine de Medici's life, yet none to my knowledge go to the extent of C.W. Gortner in his book, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, where the author goes to great lengths to humanize the legend from her early years in Florence, Italy to her death in Blois, France.

Catherine De Medici's first thirteen years were tumultuous ones, a ward to her Uncle the Pope, yet living in Florence with her stern, yet loving Aunt after being orphaned shortly after her birth. Catherine was allegedly given the gift of sight when she was 10 years of age and it was foretold that Florence would fall one day and that Catherine De Medici would fulfill her destiny. Catherine and her Aunt were shortly afterwards exiled from Florence by the Signoria and Catherine was sent to live several miserable years in the Convent of San Lucia until she was finally sent to Rome to live with her Papa Clement, the Pope. If she thought life would be stable, she was in for a rude awakening when she learned she was to be wed to Henri d'Orleans, King Francois' second son, since his first son was sickly and not likely to take the throne.

Her marriage was typical for the day, purely practical and political, Italy needed an alliance with France. Yet her life in court was far from a fairytale and far closer to a nightmare over the many years. Gortner takes the reader through Catherine's life in Italy to the end of her life in France spanning the years 1527-1589. Through tremendous research and creativity, Gortner provides the reader with another side of Catherine de Medici, of a young woman who was sent to a foreign land, forced to marry a man who not only disliked her, but also was, from the beginning, unfaithful. Of course these are not uncommon occurrences to be sure, yet each event along Catherine de Medici's life, good or bad, created the strong woman and capable leader she became.

Exquisitely descriptive, rich in imagery and steeped in historical fact, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici make for an intriguing as well as enlightening novel that will engage the reader from the very beginning. I highly recommend The Confessions of Catherine de Medici to those who have read other accounts of her life as well as those new to her life, of her fight for what was hers and above all, of her journey to becoming one of the most revered, feared and often misunderstood Queens in history.

About the Author:

C. W. Gortner, half-Spanish by birth, holds an M.F.A. in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California and has taught university courses on women of power in the Renaissance. He was raised in Málaga, Spain, and now lives in California.

For more information about C.W. Gortner, you can visit his website.

C.W. Gortner’s THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR JUNE ‘10 officially began on June 1st and end on June 25th. You can visit C.W. Gortner's blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.comduring the month of June to find out more about this great book and talented author!

I received a complimentary copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Cheryl said...

Thanks for the wonderful review of Christopher's book. I can't wait to get started on this one because I love his descriptions too.


A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I love books like this one-this will be a nice change from the Tudors for me.

Nikki-ann said...

Sounds interesting :)

Tea said...

Great review, I love your opening lines about none of us are innocent. Great way to keep me reading. Her uncle was the pope??? Interesting.

C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you for your lovely review. I appreciate your generosity in hosting me on my virtual tour and hope your readers will enjoy Catherine de Medici's tale.

Hannah said...

Thanks for the review! I really like this time period- especially when the material focuses on the women. I am looking forward to picking this up!

jewelknits said...

This is definitely going on my 'must read' list. I love historical fact/fiction novels, and I would love to learn more about Catherine de Medici!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries