Monday, May 10, 2010

HFBRT Book Review: THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI by C.W. Gortner

LOVED it! I can finally say I have read something on Catherine De Medici. I gave it a go at “The Devils Queen” but I lost my stomach when it took a really dark and twisted turn. It was the only book in the past two years I was not able to finish. I wanted so desperately to read on Catherine that when I got wind last year of Gortner’s work in progress I figured I would bid my time and patiently wait for the new release. You have to know how hard it was to wait for this read; I really thought about it every other day because it would randomly haunt my thoughts. I am so glad I waited.

The infamous Catherine De Medici has been portrayed as a monstrous character in history.  Referred to as “Madame Serpentine”, during her time she was regularly associated with witchcraft, and scandal. Catherine is one historical fictions leading ladies that should be left to the experts because she did live a very complicated life. C.W. Gortner’s overwhelming craft prove that he is just that expert and he likes to tackle the hard cases. One of Gortner’s premier skills as a writer is that he takes his readers on a 360-degree turn of the whole story, seeing and exploring all the possibilities. I am elated and proud of myself for waiting for my first Catherine read and truly I loved this book. Gortner proves there always are two sides to every story.

Catherine orphaned and hated in Florence Italy by the people because her uncle was the Pope and Florence was fighting his rule when Catherine suffered imprisonment until her uncle could save her. Spiriting her off to Rome her uncle Clement opened up worldwide bids her hand in marriage, but really he was baiting a bigger fish, France. Francis I sought Catherine’s hand for his son the young prince Henri. It was not too long before Catherine was on her way to France to be married to France and Henri.

It was a shame to me that Henri was not so enthused about his marriage to Catherine. His stupid mistress Diane de Ponitiers ruled him long before Catherine arrived and would until the day he died. A bitter rivalry between the two ensued with Catherine always coming out on the loosing end. I HATED Diane the older cougar was twice the young prince’s age and she was his childhood nurse. One aspect of Catherine I respected that Gortner applied to her was the gift of sight, leave it to Gortner to leave in the rumor but add a realist’s version of the truth to the story. Maybe she was what at the times people considered a “witch” but now a days we would not call her a witch but a psychic, in other words not the murdering, blood thirst witch type who brewed a caldron. Okay so maybe there was a little black magic but not her doing one of her minions instead. The visions always related to the core of her whole meaning of her life, her family and France.  I believe completely in the power of a woman’s intuition but throw a mother’s into it and it becomes a strong force in some women that can do extraordinary things.

After completing this read I feel very compassionate towards Catherine and her case. How could you not respect a woman who defied all the odds that were set in her path? A lady so brave in the face adversity that she knew her husband never was really hot on her, lost him early to an older mistress who paraded around in the court as queen herself wearing even the damn crowned jewels. Jezebel in reincarnation! Diane even went as far as to take control of her young children and manipulated them into hating her because she was not the mistress. How could you not respect the fact that she made it through all that with her sanity still intact? I am not sure if I would have faired so well.

Catherine was venerated the day that Henri suddenly died; her day to shine had come. I was shocked when Henry died at about a fourth of the way into the read then I realized that this is just the beginning of Catherine’s rein.  What I expected next I was not sure, all is what I knew was it had to be juicy because there was still three fourths of the book left to read.  I also knew that there was a terrible massacre on St. Bartholomew’s day in France and that many innocent people lost their lives. I am still in shock of what events transpired before and after that dreadful day. I believe I am shocked because it was civil war and religious war; the two strike a person too close to home. Catherine did what Catherine had to do to protect her children, backing a lioness with cubs into a corner is a very dangerous game to play. She never backed down and loved her children even if there was a constant cloud of evil discord that followed the family and her. If I had been in her position I would have been ruthless too if it meant my children’s well being.  When life throws you lemons you make lemonade and Catherine made lemonade.

 5/5 LOVED it, and yes I am so freaking positive not because this is an event but because C.W. Gortner is by far in my selected small pool of favorite authors. I always write my reviews immediately following my reads so that it is fresh in my mind and I stay true to how I really freshly feel after I have finished. This read is unique and a bit dark but it was really a thrilling book to the point when I thought I had it figured out, I was completely wrong, there were so many events I never saw coming. I am shocked by how little knowledge I had on what events were transpiring in France when the lovely Elizabeth was on the throne fighting the Spanish. This book made me love Catherine for her undying love and devotion to her family and country. What today we would call a “ride or die” type of woman who at times took on a super human strength to save her children’s lives and country.

Thank you C.W. for sending me the wonderful Arc I have to say it is very unique for the fact it is the first one I have ever received that is so close to the final copy that the only difference is a seal on the front with the ARC info. It is a beautiful book and I will cherish it forever. Thank you for opening a window to Catherine’s soul.

 HFBRT May Event


Saturday, May 8thTwo-book Giveaway at the HFBRT.


In today's schedule:

Monday, May 10th“An Italian in the Court of France,” a Guest Post by CW Gortner at Enchanted by Josephine, “Quoteables: Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers” by Allie at Hist-Fic Chick



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16 comments:

Amy said...

Great review! I love C.W. too and I cannot wait to read this fabulous book! Thanks!

NurseExec said...

Great review. I loved his last book, and I'm definitely going to read this one--hopefully I'll win it!

Marie said...

You are so infectious with your exuberance. "so feraking Positive!!"
Love your style Lizzy =) Glad the wait was worth it! I am still going to try and read The Devil's Queen, and skip the lurid part you mention.

C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you, Lizzy, for this passionate and heart-felt review; I am very honored and privileged to be here with my new novel, as part of the HFBRT event.

dolleygurl said...

A wonderful review Lizzy. I am with you, I really didn't like Diane in this book. I'm not sure how I feel about reading The Devil's Queen, will sit on that one a little bit!

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

Aw, totally heartfelt review Liz. I can really tell how enthusiastic you are about having seen into Catherine's life through this book. It's discovering new characters and the reactions like this that make me love this genre so much!!

lizzy J said...

Amy, ah ha another fellow lover, this one will not disappoint.

NurseExec, I am willing my good thoughts your way.

Marie, LOL you will know when you start it even the beginning I felt was a bit too much.

C.W., It is a pleasure as always to feature one of my personal favorites and I can see I am not the only one. HFBRT has been excited about this one for a long time. It was a great introduction to the life Catherine lived.

dolleygurl, I really shopped around on Catherine, I own the Diane Haeger one "Courtesian" but did not want to read it first because most people who read that one become see it from a different point of view. I wanted this to be the first completed and I am so glad I waited now I can read it from Diane's point of view.

Allie, talk about nailing how I feel about HF. The best part is when you can read a book then look it up and compare afterwards.

librarypat said...

Great review, Lizzy. This book is now a must read. I know little about Catherine De Medici and what i have ever heard has not been positive. This well researched book will give me a great overview of her, her life and times.
Mr. Grotner is also a new to me author. From the sound of your review, I need to check into his other books. Well researched books are sometimes hard to find.

lizzy J said...

Librarypat, you are right it is hard to find a well researched book this one is up to par. I was actually turned onto him by the lovely Robin Maxwell she recommended him to me and since then have loved the last two reads from Gortner.

Ms. Lucy said...

Lovely, lovely review! Lizzy, I'm so happy this book stirred you to the point of loving Catherine! She definitely was an extraordinary woman- and I absolutely love the way her story is written through Gortner's fantastic portrayal of her. Certainly a book that I too will cherish as outstanding. Thanks!

Christine Trent said...

"Diane the older cougar" - LOL!

I love your passionate reviews, Lizzy. And I need no more convincing that I need to lay my hands on a copy of this book. It sounds wonderful.

Mystica said...

Am reading a book on Catherine by Leonie Frieda and liking it very much.

lizzy J said...

Lucy, I really wanted to love Catherine and this book did it for me. I now need more on her!

Christine, dragged you tooth and nail away from writing what I know is destined to be a fabulous novel. I am glad you enjoyed my "cougar" analogy. I think you would enjoy his books, he is a vivid writer and you live it not just read it.

Mystica, I am going to have to look that one up and add it to the list.

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

You nailed this Liz and had me laughing out laud at a few parts ;-)

Out of all the books I've read on Catherine I'd definitely say that this was the most believable and you were so right with what you said about thinking you knew what was what and then it twists on you...so great!!!

Another great review Liz, thank you!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

I'm a week late to the events because I was sick last week. =O( Better late than never though! Great review Lizzy. I am really looking forward to reading this book. I do not know much about Catherine, but I'm learning so much just from these posts. I'm looking forward to learning more about her.

lizzy J said...

Amy, LOL good I am glad I made you laugh. Was it not a good twisting book? It took every fiber of my self restraint not to read the history before I finished.

Miichelle, I am so glad to hear you are feeling better and thank you! You will love it there are a few insane parts that I can not giveaway but what I can say is this is a far from boring read.

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