Skip to main content

Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by CW Gortner


Pages: 397

Original date of publication: 2010

My edition: 210 (Ballantine)

Why I decided to read: I read and loved The Last Queen last year

How I acquired my copy: LTER

I’ve been looking forward to reading The Confessions of Catherine de Medici ever since reading CW Gortner’s other book, The Last Queen, last spring. I think it’s difficult for an author to have a strong second novel follow up on the first, but Gortner rally pulls it off with his novel about Catherine de Medici—a queen who in and of herself was a complicated woman. She’s an intriguing woman however—a member of one of the foremost families in Europe, she was alternately a duchess, dauphine, queen, queen mother, and regent. And yet, she was maligned as a witch, accused of masterminding the Bartholomew’s Day massacre among other things.

Writing from the point of view of someone as famous as Catherine is, is tricky. On one hand, there’s a wealth of information out there on her; on the other, the trick lies in bringing Catherine to life as opposed to merely reciting a string of facts about her. CW Gortner has done a fabulous job of merging fact with fiction. I could use cliché after cliché to describe this novel, but in summary, I enjoyed it very, very much.

I also appreciated the fact that the author toned down the witchcraft bits—in this novel, Catherine is interested in the occult, but not so much that she turns into some crone herself. I do wish, however, that the book had been longer, because it covers roughly sixty years of Catherine’s life—an ambitious undertaking! The beginning of the novel, up until the time that Catherine’s second son becomes king, moves rather quickly, which is understandable, considering that her life as queen mother and regent was far more interesting than her earlier history—at least in my opinion.

Comments

Daphne said…
I'm looking forward to reading this one, especially since I've heard nothing but good things about it!
Hannah Stoneham said…
Interesting review, thanks for sharing.Catherine was certainly a controversial figure!
Marg said…
It feels as thought his book has taken forever to come out! I am glad that I very nearly can get my hands on it!
Bookfool said…
I'm looking forward to reading this one, too, although it might be a while, since I'm getting off the ARC bandwagon. I loved Gortner's first book.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…