Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday + Blog Tour Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two "teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

This week my teaser comes from C.W. Gortner's gripping novel about one of history's most maligned queens: Catherine de Medici. This book is beautifully written, as I think this teaser demonstrates. From page 232:

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A NovelThere are many ways to betray one's heart. I had turned forty-seven, suffered disillusionment and far more devastating losses; I refused to mourn something that could never be. I'd basked in illusion, carried it with me as something precious, but now I swept up the fragments and put them away.

Click Here to read a fantastic guest post from C.W. Gortner,
and enter to win a copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici!

From the Back Cover:

The truth is, not one of us is innocent. We all have sins to confess. So reveals Catherine de Medici, the last legitimate descendant of her family’s illustrious line. Expelled from her native Florence, Catherine is betrothed to Henri, son of Fran├žois I of France. In an unfamiliar realm, 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 in a kingdom torn apart by 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, unaware that if she is to save France, she may have to sacrifice her ideals, her reputation, and the secret of her embattled heart.

My Thoughts:

The challenges for an author tackling the life of Catherine de Medici are many: not only was her life longer than most, it was chock full of drama and tragedy, and marred by incidents and opinions that continue to taint her reputation to this day. I'm happy to say that Gortner does a fabulous job of interweaving the many pivotal, historical moments in Catherine's life with intimate moments and personal revelations, while addressing the rumors and ugly truths of one of history's most powerful women. From her rivalry with her husband's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to her relationship with sorcery, to the murder of her political rivals and her hand in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, it's all here in glorious, gory detail.

I think this book is beautifully written, and as I was reading I marked at least a dozen quotes and passages that I thought were striking. Gortner paints a very human portrait of a fascinating woman whom history has painted as a monster, but who was ultimately a wife and a mother at heart. She definitely makes mistakes and she has a hard time admitting the error of her ways, but she's very realistic. I think Gortner has taken some serious dramatic license with Catherine's love life after her husband's death, however, but it makes for great story and adds that perfect touch of angst, betrayal, and motivation. Gortner doesn't mention his inclusion of this relationship at all in his author's note, but he does reveal that he chose only to include Catherine's surviving children in his fictionalization of her life. I was disappointed to learn this, because I don't think you can paint a true portrait of a woman if you omit the loss of three of her children in childbirth and infancy.

This is a very entertaining and enlightening read, particularly in regards to the religious struggle between the Catholics and Huguenots that plagued France throughout this time period. The Huguenots actually would not be granted full religious freedom for another two hundred years after Catherine's death. And the political battle staged in the name of religion between the Guises, the Valois, and Henri of Navarre--not to mention the meddling of Elizabeth Tudor, Philip II, and the Holy Roman Emperor--translates into some really gripping and compelling reading, and offers a world of insight into the woman who stood alone among them.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is on a blog tour! Visit Historical Fiction Virtual Tours and check out the other stops along the tour!
And don't forget to enter the Giveaway!

*Please note: I'd already purchased this book before I was invited to participate in the blog tour, and I was not compensated in any way for providing this review!


  1. What a beautiful teaser. Sounds like a great book! My teaser: To Kill a Mockingbird

  2. Great review. I do confess to not liking her, which is silly. But I blame a book I read. So I would really like to read a book that is about her

  3. Nice teaser! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Great teaser and review!


  5. I love the start of your teaser -- so fabulous! I really need to read Gortner soon -- I've heard such great things about his books and I'm especially a fan of CdM!

  6. Great teaser, I love these kinds of books. Reading about a historical figure can be kind of dull, but historical fiction about real women help me find people I'll actually enjoy learning about!

    My teaser this week is from Furies Of Calderon


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