The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel

by C. W. Gortner
4.0 44

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The Confessions of Catherine de Medici 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Heavensent1 More than 1 year ago
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 d
Humbee More than 1 year ago
"Confessions of Catherine de Medici" is a novel that art historians and historical fiction lovers will simply devour once they get their hands on it. I know, because I am of that ilk! This book is as close to reading someone else's diary as one could get were it not for the extraordinary descriptive details that highlight the story. Written by the hand of a wizard, the novel is riddled with unbelievably gorgeous descriptions of architecture, artworks, tapestries, gardens and garments. That alone could make me an avid fan, but to top that off, Mr. Gortner is a writer of such an all inclusive style that I hung on his every word. To him, history is not dull, and he conveys that in every sentence of this powerful, absorbing book. Catherine de Medici has long been a figure I've been interested in knowing more about. I was an Art History major in college, including concentrations in Fine Arts and Museum Studies. The Medicis absolutely captured my fantasies because of their collections of art, their wealth, their bent toward evil doings and their intrigues. They were handsome, gorgeous and insane, while they built a Florence that became the jewel of Italy. Fascinating stuff! So, Catherine de Medici, the last of the Medici and only surviving grandchild of Lorenzo the Magnificent had to be exceptional and endowed with dazzling gifts of mind and spirit. Mr. Gortner makes all of his characters come alive. His easy manner of introducing and evolving the emotional make up of the primary characters makes them feel like they have walked into your life, literally. I fell in love with the young Catherine and her devastating childhoood, suffered with her young bridal years, agonized over her love life, and fought with her for her children and country. What a heroine she was, and how vulnerable Gortner made her, as well as making her a lioness befitting her royal heritage. Mr. Gortner's research and writing of his historical novel seems meant to reach a wide audience, although directed mostly to women. His concerns address the historical significance of Catherine de Medici as a major woman of the 16th c. It also seems to me that he writes in order to highlight the strengths that a spirit can rise to and overcome under duress in life. Women are most often the ones who carry burdens of balancing difficult tasks, caring for home, children, poverty and wartime backlash...Mr. Gortner's book offers Catherine de Medici as a historic figure who represents real life heroics women have achieved throughout time. When all the dots have been placed and the commas laid in properly, "Confessions of Catherine de Medici" is simply a wonderful story to read. It will remind you of those books about Anne Bolyen and her sister we've all loved in the recent past, only Mr. Gortner writes much better. 5 stars for an author who will take you back to 16th century France. Deborah/TheBookishDame
JConMartin More than 1 year ago
Just read my first by C. W. Gortner and it won't be the last. Catherine de Medici comes off as a real woman on the page. She is what a writing teacher of mine used to call a marble-cake character. You see the good and you see the bad, but you see the hows and whys of her thinking and actions. The secondary characters are also given depth and are beautifully drawn. The author's afterword is especially enlightening regarding the historical Catherine, but do remember, it's to be read afterward! Highly recommended! James Conroyd Martin Author of Push Not the River & Against a Crimson Sky
Montreve More than 1 year ago
I will start out by saying that I wasn't overly thrilled with Gortner as a writer. I know there are some who add that name to a list of great authors, but I wasn't overly enthused. It was .... Simple reading. I was never fully engulfed in what was happening, never fully 'there' with the characters. But that could just be me ... I do wish their had been more politic intrigue in the book. You know, the really nasty, tangled, web of intrigue that seems to haunt history. I did enjoy reading about Catherine de Medici, though. I first became interested in her story when I saw a History Channel special about her and her family. The 'voice' of the character Catherine in the book does seem to match nicely with what I have discovered myself. A strong woman, fiercely loyal. I also enjoyed the path the book took through her life. Carrying the reader through her slightly spoiled childhood and then hurling both character and reader into a foriegn land with de Medici getting her first taste of true court intrigue and fear. Then, of course, into her later life where she ... Takes the reigns for herself. I'd recommend this book for book clubs, just because there are several points in Medici's life that are clearly covered and thus easy discussion points. Also, there are plenty of points where one could ask, "And how would you have acted in this situation? What would you have done?" While I thought this book was alright, I probably won't be rushing back to the store to round up anything else by this author.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1589, seventy year old Catherine de Medici looks back on her life as a king maker with sins to confess just like she insists everyone else. When she was ten years old she thought she was a witch as she has her first vision. When she was thirteen, the orphaned Catherine becomes engaged in an arranged marriage to Henri d'Orleans, brother of the ailing heir to the French crown. Although frightened about leaving her safe home in Florence, she journeys to France allegedly to meet her fiancé. Catherine quickly strikes a deal with Henri's mistress Diane de Poitiers though she loathes the woman who occupies her spouse's bed more than she does and applies the poison she brought with her discreetly. Although loathed by her subjects as an outsider, Catherine becomes the power behind the throne when her husband becomes king. After Henri's death, the widow insures three of her sons in succession sit on the throne. She continues to use her paranormal skills to abet her political acumen and her knowledge of poisons to keep her family on the throne. Although the audience will have to leave their perceptions of the poison queen at the front cover, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is an enjoyable work of biographical fiction. Catherine argues that she is no different than everyone else who casts stones at her. Instead she insists she is just a protective mother of her offspring and her country. Although it is difficult to feel empathy to such a ruthless individual especially with her use of poison and her part in the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots, C.W. Gortner provides a unique perspective as he enables historical fiction readers to understand the viewpoint of Catherine de Medici. Harriet Klausner
penname96 More than 1 year ago
Let me start with CW Gortner is one of my favorite authors and "The Last Queen" is one of my favorite books, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on "Confessions." Yes, my expectations were high. For starters, with this being Catherine's story, I expected Diane de Poitiers to be made out as a bad person, understandably, but their was so my much rich history there between Henri, Diane and Catherine, I felt he didn't do that relationship justice. After reading Diane Haeger's "The Courtesan" (another favorite book) I was let down. That part of Catherine's life, molded a lot of her personality. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew had me engrossed. I love historical fiction, but I expect the authors to leave the facts and weave the parts we do not know. I feel, from my studies, he changed history here throughout alot of the book. Due to spolier alerts I won't mention what parts.
AngieJG More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed learning about Catherine Medici, and I am inspired to read some factual books about her. I was not thrilled with this novel. There seem to be something missing. I never felt a connection to Catherine. I felt I never really got to know the other characters as well. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love historical fiction books this one left me flat. Catherine was written to be so full of herself. She was written as if it was current times. Too much religious and political bias. The historical value was too disjointed. It truly was a fiction.
WilesWales More than 1 year ago
Gortner does incredible research on the most minute facts before he even begins to put this historical novel on paper. He takes the facts and from the first sentence sends one into both the life and facts intertwined in such a way as to make one think they are reading a book that one will not be able to sleep at night. He also makes the the thoughts of this highly misunderstood woman to the table with facts without ever realizing this is history at all! Catherine de Medici can now be understood as the person she was. Be careful though, you won't be able to put this one down. What a winner!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the descriptions of all of Catherine's children.
MsDollie More than 1 year ago
Confessions of Catherine de Medici was a fantastic read! C W Gartner representation of Catherine de Medici was both entertaining and believable. Goes in my to read again category.
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jeaniCT More than 1 year ago
I am especially interested in Catherine de Medici as she is one of my ancestors! The book is well written and historical, a subject I have always loved.
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Tina8317 More than 1 year ago
I am an avid historical fiction reader and I have read two previous books by Gortner- The Last Queen and The Tudor Secret. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is written in a first person narrative and she is telling you her life in her perspective. Between the trials she encountered as a young child to competing with King Henri's mistress to the religous factions between the Catholic faith and the Huguenots, this book was hard to put down. You begin to understand the actions Catherine needed to do to secure herself and her children on the french throne. It was written in a simple manner and I give Gortner props for condensing the story so it's easy to follow, moves quickly and keeps you interested. A must read for fiction fans
sirensong47 More than 1 year ago
nice take on Catherine de Medici- the author did a great job of humanizing this controversial woman.
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