Monday, May 24, 2010

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.


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!


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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.


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