First line: I am not a sentimental woman.
Why I read this: I love historical fiction and when I saw this book was touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotions, I requested to be part of it. I've also read another book by C.W. Gortner, The Tudor Secret, which I really enjoyed.
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 Francois 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: This is the second book I've read by C.W. Gortner and I really like his work. Not knowing anything about Catherine de Medici before reading this, I was captivated from the first page. As I was reading the book, I felt as if I was reading from Catherine's diary - there was an intimate connection between the character and me, the reader. Catherine de Medici is a complicated yet intriguing woman - she was a member of one of the foremost families in Europe, she was alternately a duchess, a dauphone, a queen, the queen mother and regent, and all the while thought to be a witch, accused of masterminding the Bartholomew's Day massacre.
C.W. Gortner tells Catherine's story in her own voice - starting from when she was a child up to her late adulthood. He includes her difficult life in Florence,the challenges of her marriage to Henri where she was largely overshadowed by Henri's long standing mistress Diane de Poitiers, and then her role in the reigns of her sons during an age of almost constant religious and civil war in France. It is almost as if you are sitting down with Catherine as she reminisces about her life.
What a time period for woman, especially those of royalty. I've read a few books about this time period, mainly having to do with the Tudors. To be seen as pawns to bring alliance between countries and the idea of procreation taking place by the age of fourteen is crazy. After reading such an intriguing and engrossing story, I find myself fascinated with this woman who experienced so much within her life.
I look forward to reading more not only about Catherine de Medici but also other works by C.W. Gortner - I am a fan of both now.
About the author: C.W. Gortner is the author of the acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, and The Tudor Secret. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Half-Spanish by birth, he divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.
You can visit the author online at www.cwgortner.com or his blog at http://historicalboys.blogspot.com/.
I received a complimentary copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour.