The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

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9780345501868: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

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.
 

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Review:

C.W. Gortner on The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

I found Catherine de Medici to be both a perfect subject and enormous challenge for my next work of historical fiction. Though I’d known about her for years, I soon discovered during my research how little I had truly understood her. Few queens are as notorious as this woman who ruled France during the 16th century, renowned for her ruthlessness and accused of heinous crimes, including the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Obscured by her own dark legend, Catherine lurks in the shadows of history as the perennial black widow, weaving intrigue in her Louvre palace apartments even as outside her window, Paris lies bathed in blood.

Catherine was born in a time of deep religious conflict, when the idealism of Europe’s early Renaissance had given way to the zealous Protestant Reformation. England, Germany, and the Low Countries embraced this new faith, while imperial Spain tenaciously combated the spread of what was seen as heresy. France found itself trapped between the tenets of the old faith and innovation of the new one--and the struggle that ensued is marked by its fervor and savagery. It is also dominated by the widowed queen-mother, Catherine de Medici.

When someone lives an eventful life in a tumultuous time, there’s always more to her story than history can tell us. Catherine de Medici is a figure of lurid speculation but she had dreams and aspirations; hopes and disillusions. Yet unlike Elizabeth I, who commands our respect with her virginal splendor; or Mary of Scots, who elicits sympathy for her romantic martyrdom, Catherine has not been allowed much compassion. We forget that in the end, like all of us, she was human.

This is the flesh-and-blood Catherine de Medici readers will meet in my book: the teenage Florentine heiress sent to France to marry a prince she does not love; the determined wife enduring years in the shadow of her husband’s icy mistress; the powerful regent fighting for her country; the fierce mother with her brood of children; and the bold queen whose alliance with an enigmatic rebel plunges her into a labyrinth of passion, betrayal, and murder. You will also meet the seer Nostradamus, who shares a prophetic gift with Catherine; the haughty duke of Guise, whose ambitions could bring about France’s ruin; and Catherine’s own children--weak Francois, married to Mary of Scots yet terrified of becoming king; fervent Charles, scarred by the fears of his childhood; gallant Henri, whose courage hides a secret; deformed Hercule, frantic to prove his worth; and beautiful Margot, whose thwarted desires will wreak terrible vengeance.

Unlike the legend, Catherine’s true story is full of drama, courage, triumph and tragedy; set in a complex era of glamorous spectacle and lethal deceit, where one woman faced the conflict between faith and survival and did everything she had to, to protect those she loved.

I hope that once you read her words, you will find her as fascinating as I did. I hope you enjoy The Confessions of Catherine de Medici.


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.

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C. W. Gortner
Editore: Ballantine Books (2010)
ISBN 10: 0345501861 ISBN 13: 9780345501868
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(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
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