Shortly after I finished reading and reviewing The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, I asked him if I could review The Confessions of Catherine de Medici when he was finished writing it. I loved The Last Queen and I wanted more by this talented author.
I'm so glad that he agreed!
In this fictional memoir, Catherine De Medici, the last of the Italian Medicis, is sent to France as a young woman to marry Henri, the son of King Francois. Henri has no interest in Catherine, as he has a mistress, Diane le Poithers, that he is very much in love with. After years of not having a child together due to lack of trying, Catherine is forced to bargain with Diane to have a heir and secure her future in France. They come to an understanding and Diane even stays in the room while Catherine and Henri have sex, coaching them into different positions that will help Catherine become pregnant.
They finally have heirs but what Catherine doesn't bargain for, is that Diane raises her children. The later come to resent Catherine for that arrangement, even though it was beyond her control.
After Henri dies Catherine seizes power to secure the crown for her sons. Four of her sons became King, in succession but Catherine either served as regent or advisor to each of them.. She tried to broker peace and tolerance between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots again and again.
History has labelled Catherine De Medci as an evil witch, as Queen of France however, C.W. Gortner shows a different side of her. He treats her in a much more balanced view, as a mother, friend, lover, and Queen. He pulls this off smoothly and keeps the pages turning in a fury to see what happens next.
A lot of the story focused on the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots. Although Gortner had to do this, I thought the story got just a little bit bogged down with all of the details. This is a very minor flaw and otherwise the story seems flawless.
I don't know what Gortner's next book will be about but I can hardly wait! I'd love to review it Christopher.