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The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel (excerpt)

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel (excerpt)

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4.03

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["Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory fans will devour this." - Booklist] 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 François 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.
["Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory fans will devour this." - Booklist] 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 François 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.

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Publish date: May 24, 2011
Added to Scribd: May 26, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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Praise for 
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
“Gortner opens a window into Catherine de Medici’s soul, proving therealways are two sides to every story. A perfect 5-star read!” —Historically Obsessed“Meticulously researched... Gortner breathes... life into his queen. —
 Library Journal 
“Beautifully written and impeccably researched,
The Confessions of  Catherine de Medici 
is a dazzling account of a brilliant woman.”
—Romance Reviews Today 
“Magnificently written... Gortner never fails to amaze.... His seem-ingly effortless writing talent makes this novel a must-read!” ––Passages to the Past“Gripping and intense... filled with lots of suspense and... major twistsand turns. You will be highly entertained!Booking Mama“An intriguing and provocative book about one of history’s most contro-versial queens and the turbulent world of sixteenth-century France.” ––
Sharon Penman
,
 New York Times
bestselling author of 
Devil’s Brood 
“The notorious Catherine de Medici emerges as a flesh-and-blood womanin this masterful recounting of her life. C.W. Gortner has an uncannyability to delve into the intense humanness of his characters.” ––
Margaret George
,
 New York Times
bestselling author of 
The Autobiography of Henry VIII 
“Powerful and determined, Catherine de Medici strides across the treach-erous glamour of sixteenth-century France in this breathtaking novel.With an exquisite eye for detail and deep sensitivity, Gortner evokes awoman of immense personality and resolve, who never gave up on herchildren or her country. You will not be able to put this book down!” ––
Michelle Moran
, nationally bestselling author of 
 Nefertiti 
“Thrilling and original... a dramatic portrait of a brilliant queen and arealmdivided by dissension.” ––
Stephanie Cowell
, author of 
Claude & Camille
and
 Marrying Mozart 
“When it comes to the art of writing, C.W. Gortner’s name can be addedto the list of master craftsmen.”
—New YorkJournal of Books
 
ALSO BY C. W. GORTNER
The Last QueenThe Tudor Secret 

Activity (32)

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elysianfield_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
I absolutely loved The Last Queen when I read it and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed with this either!

Catherine de Medici is leaving Italy to marry Henry, second son of French King François I. But Henri is on love with his older mistress Diane de Poitiers and doesn’t seem to care about Catherine at all. She feels lonely but she does befriend the king. Things gets better after years of waiting she delivers a boy. But it’s only after Henri’s death she becomes to her power.

She fights hard to secure the crown for her son(s) and keeping the dynasty alive. We see her growing from naive girl to powerful woman with capacity for compassion and understanding. And who also knows how to make people fear.

I loved how Gortner describes St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and how Catherine is involved with it. And how the things got to that point.

I love how Gortner is able to humanize Catherine and to show there were reasons to what she did. She made mistakes but she tried to do her best. And it wasn’t easy juggling between Catholics and the Huguenots.

The only quibble I had was that I’d liked to have something on the author’s note about Catherine and Coligny. But that was the only thing.

I just loved this book and can’t wait to read more from him!
tina1969_1 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
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.My Thoughts:I knew nothing at all about Catherine de Medici apart from that she had an interest in the occult. This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time so I decided to give it ago and to read about somebody that I knew nothing about.I quickly got straight in to the life of Catherine and was finding I wanted more. I was however waiting for something that in this book was not going to happen. I wanted to read a lot more about Catherine and her interests in the occult but in this account there was very little. I then found myself a little let down as I think I was expecting a lot more and I was getting bored with the book as I felt it was just droning on and not really going anywhere.The first half of the book I loved and then I just lost interest so for the time being the book remains unfinished. Catherine herslf I want to know more and half been reading reviews about her in other books which I will seek out in the future.
wagner5sarah35 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A fascinating and well-balanced fictional look at this Renaissance queen's life. Catherine de Medici lived in a complex time and obtained power in a country strife with religious warfare and I must compliment the author on creating a compelling and sensible narrative out of a complex and intricate history. While some aspects of this novel are clearly in the realm of fiction, the motivations and abilities of Catherine emerge from the narrative, shedding light on this historical figure. A good read for fans of historical fiction.
susiesharp_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner narrated by, Cassandra CampbellA fascinating look at the life of Catherine de Medici, I knew nothing about her before I started this book and have been googling like crazy to see what is fact or fiction. As usual C.W. Gortner has done his homework, of course I’m sure some liberties were taken but that is why this is historical fiction not non-fiction. This is my third book by Gortner and I must say I really enjoy his style, his writing has a nice flow and as I said the man has done his research.The more I read about royals the more I see their lives as something not look up to; these people are the epitome of dysfunction. Daughters, were only born to wed someone who will further their Father, Mother, or Brothers political ambitions. They will kill anyone who gets in their way no matter how closely related. They are so controlled by everyone around them that most of the time they can’t make any decisions’ themselves and if they do well, you went against someone else’s ambition so they will make sure you pay for it. There were times I felt for Catherine, more so before her husband died but afterwards she wasn’t near as likable and seemed to get less so as her life went on. Some of Catherine’s decisions were questionable and so was her relationship with her children but this was really a sign of the times and pretty much how all royals were with their children. By the end of her life she was so hated by the French, but with what I know of French history it seems there are few French Royals that were liked by the people. But she did have some powerful enemies and really her family didn’t run France the Guise (*sp audio*) did. I was surprised by the appearance of Nostradamus and how much Catherine believed in his prophecies, but I guess they were right sometimes.This is narrated by, Cassandra Campbell and as big fan of hers, I was a bit apprehensive because she doesn’t have a British accent ( Yes, I have a thing that no matter where it is set all historical fiction should be done in a British accent) that being said she was Fantastic and she has changed my stance on this ! Her slight French just the rolling of some r’s and not a full out French accent was absolutely spot on, I was glad she didn’t go into a full accent I don’t know that it would have been believable but the subtly she showed was wonderful.Great author and fabulous narration, I highly recommend this one especially on audio.4 ½ Stars
michellesutton reviewed this
Rated 5/5
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici was fascinating to say the least, and extremely well written, much to my delight. The prose was almost lyrical at times. I was impressed with how much I learned about the historical queen and her family. The author made that era come alive without boring me with the many details that are needed to describe what took place in history. He really brings her trials and triumphs to life and did so in a way that made sense to me. I kept forgetting that the author was a man. He portrayed a woman's mindset so well in his description of Catherine's life and in her inner dialog. The queen regent's desire for peace was admirable, but her many compromises along the way caused nothing but further heartache. Being a regent in those days was a formidable task as so many lives depended on every decision made. Again, a fascinating and engrossing tale all around.I've always found the time period in European history when religious persecution took place very intriguing. It seemed like there was an endless need for killing which flipped from one side to the other on a regular basis. It was a crazy generation to live in and a very bloody time as well. It's amazing that Europe survived it. The Protestant Reformation has always fascinated me because despite persecution in both directions it managed to survive and leave a legacy that exists to this day. The author did a great job at showing how complex the politics of the day were and how betrayal occurred on so many levels. I found it sad that Catherine believed her son Henri would be the one to keep the dynasty going only to discover that he would never have an heir for reasons she never saw coming. So many in her family died or were murdered. Again, quite sad. By book's end I felt like I understood a character in history that I knew very little about prior to reading this novel. I highly recommend it.
madmoosemama reviewed this
Rated 4/5
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is an historical fictional account of one of France's most notorious Queens.Catherine is a very loyal child, she understands her role in the political aspirations of her Medici family name. Even at a young age, she realizes that her destiny is one of greatness. Having the gift of 'sight', she becomes a very superstitious person, who sees signs and portents and dabbles in magical arts.Her uncle, Pope Clement, has betrothed her to the King of France's second son, Henri d'Orleans. She has no love for this man, but her duty requires her to stand strong in faith and with much determination, she makes the best of her situation. Ingraining herself into France's culture, she emerges as a champion of the countries soil. Amidst strife, and massacres like the one of St. Bartholomew, she must find her way.After several years of unsuccessfully producing an heir, Catherine becomes afraid for her future, however, King Francois I, has a special place in his heart for her, in another time, they may have been man and wife. He assures Catherine that she will produce him many fine grandchildren and Catherine is determined to fix her place in the royal family. Prince Henri believes he has married beneath himself and for many years, successfully ignores his marriage duties. His long time mistress, Diane de Poirtiers, keeps him away from court, and no matter what Catherine does to entice her husband, she fails. Ordered by his father to perform his marital duties, he dispassionately rapes her. However, no heir was produced and the two struggle to remain faithful to their duties. When Diane realizes her only hope to remain mistress is to encourage Henri of impregnating Catherine, the two begin to successfully produce the heirs that France so desperately yearn for. Catherine turns to magics to help her produce an heir and keep her husband coming to her bed, tired of court discussing her barreness. Whether they were successful or not, after eight years of non-production, Catherine goes on to birth six children. They are her life's passion and in her mother's undying love, she fails to see the jealousy and hidden innuendos amongst her own children. Diane continues to add strife to Catherine's life by having a hand in the raising of her children, sometimes adding fuel to the fire, discouraging Catherine's children from fully loving their mother.Catherine de Medici is a woman of many mysteries and C. W. Gortner has given her a different portrayal, of the woman beneath the rumours. Beginning from when she is a child, we read her thoughts and positions as she grows into womanhood and as she ages with time we learn of another possibility behind what made Catherine motivate herself to do the things she did. I truly enjoyed the book, the flow was excellent, the characters believable in their mannerisms and dialogues. I thought the passages descriptive and easily found myself envisioning the surroundings being described. I enjoyed C. W. Gortner's portrayal of Catherine, so much in history has her painted as an evil witch who poisoned those at her fancy, who controlled and manipulated everyone to her will, even when her judgements were lacking. Seeing her being portrayed as neither victim nor heroine but as a woman who has accepted what life has offered her and making the best of what is being presented to her.I was equally impressed with the graphic nature of some scenes, the author doesn't coat the facts when it comes to histories account of situations involving the players mentioned throughout the books pages. The references to the historical data being shared was interesting to read, such as Nostradamus, the religious persecutions of the Huguenots happening in France at the time, or the hostilities between Catherine and her daughter. Catherine de Medici becomes endearing to the reader through C. W. Gortner's portrayal. We learn that even though one wishes for the best outcomes, judgement and the machinations of those around you sometimes play a hand in even the best of plans. I found the story to be gripping, filled with mystery and magic and even though we know the outcome through history, I couldn't help turning the pages to see what happened next.
stephanier_870270 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
History comes to life with this inside glimpse into the machinations of the 16th century France court life
bookaddictdiary reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Gortner returns to the historical fiction genre with his newest offering: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, a portrait of the infamous French queen and her political struggles for power. As a big fan of Gortner's The Last Queen, I snatched up this follow-up and was eager to see how Gortner would treat one of the most cutthroat queens in European history.Interestingly enough, Gortner doesn't portray Catherine as being as cutthroat or sinister as many other historical fiction novels or even biographies out there. Instead, Confessions offers a human portrait of Catherine's life where she is constantly struggling against the political web woven around her. Readers watch as the young Medici, sent to France to marry King Francois's second son Henri by her uncle the Pope, grows from a meek child into a powerful Queen Regent using every resource at her disposal, even her own children, to secure the future of the French throne. Fighting against political foes the Guises, religious wars between the French Huguenots and the Catholics, the kingdom's neighbor Henry of Navarre, and even her husband's own mistress Diane de Poitres, Catherine pushes through the court intrigues and games to become a powerful woman in her own right -even though her position would never quite be secure.I was a little surprised that Gortner downplayed Catherine's interest in the occult so much. As he comments at the end of the book, Catherine's occult interests are well-documented and, aside from being interesting, would make a particularly juicy plot point, but Gortner decided to steer away from it. Rather, he focused on Catherine's relationship with her children and the political soap opera-nature of her life.Gortner's writing, as in The Last Queen, is easy, comfortable and believable as Catherine de Medici's voice. He captures amazing details of the period perfectly and manages to balance description with plot without feeling awkward.The only trouble I had with this book is that it was a little slow at times, particularly before Henri died and Catherine became regent. Perhaps this was enhanced by the fact that the first half of the story also felt very repetitive in that Catherine was always talking about being pregnant and having (yet another) child. Thankfully, the action really picks up in the second half of the book when Catherine has more power.A great and unique portrayal of Catherine de Medici, Confessions is a well written, wonderful piece of historical fiction that's perfect for fans of the genre.
reviewsbymolly reviewed this
Rated 5/5
It seems that each novel of this particular type (Queens, Kings, Tudors...) that I read, I fall a little more in love with History. Never really one for loving History or English classes in school, I am now a HUGE fan! C. W. Gortner is a new to me author and one that will be a favorite for a long time to come. His writing style is amazing, bringing History to life before the reader.This Historical hovel of the Queen of France, Catherine De Medici, is absolutely above and beyond phenomenal. The secrets, the royalties, the heartache, the truth......all of it became me as I sat reading this novel, turning page after page, waiting for the confession. Gortner blended fact and fiction together so outstandingly that I had a truly hard time differentiating between the two. Being pulled completely into the story is a fabulous, unforgettable experience.Gortner's research of the evil, scandalous Queen of France, brought new meaning to me about the 16th century. His descriptive detail about the actions and the life of Catherine made it seem as if he, Gortner himself, was actually there, beside this truly misunderstood and much hated woman. For an author to write that great, that his reader feels as if he was telling of his own actual witnessing, is beyond words.It's novels like this that have the most meaning. To give it anything less than 5 stars, would be degrading. I am looking forward to going back and getting his first novel, The Last Queen, as well as keeping up with all his future works. If you are a fan of History, then this book is perfect for you. If you love books about Queens, this is the one you want to read. And, if you've never a book like this before, then please start here with Gortner's beautiful work!
chaoticeclipse reviewed this
Rated 5/5
I absolutely loved The Last Queen when I read it and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed with this either!Catherine de Medici is leaving Italy to marry Henry, second son of French King François I. But Henri is on love with his older mistress Diane de Poitiers and doesn’t seem to care about Catherine at all. She feels lonely but she does befriend the king. Things gets better after years of waiting she delivers a boy. But it’s only after Henri’s death she becomes to her power.She fights hard to secure the crown for her son(s) and keeping the dynasty alive. We see her growing from naive girl to powerful woman with capacity for compassion and understanding. And who also knows how to make people fear.I loved how Gortner describes St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and how Catherine is involved with it. And how the things got to that point.I love how Gortner is able to humanize Catherine and to show there were reasons to what she did. She made mistakes but she tried to do her best. And it wasn’t easy juggling between Catholics and the Huguenots.The only quibble I had was that I’d liked to have something on the author’s note about Catherine and Coligny. But that was the only thing.I just loved this book and can’t wait to read more from him!

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