Friday, June 03, 2011

The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner Review and Giveaway!

I originally posted my review for The Confessions of Catherine De Medici in the HFRT feature. I wanted to celebrate its fresh release to paperback by being a part of the blog tour and by re-posting my raving review. I love the new cover and really must say that if you have any interest in Catherine de Medici or just in France and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre then this novel is an excellent place to start.

"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.

FTC-This novel was sent to me by the publisher for review
R-Rating for sexual references

Lets kick off this killer giveaway! 
The giveaway is for one finished paperback copy. This one is only open to the US residents only. Giveaway ends June 10th 2011 at midnight west coast time.

For 1 entry enter your name and email
For 2 entries be a follower and say so in the form
For 3 entries share this and add a real link.



  1. So glad you loved this book too... but how could you not, it's beyond fantastic!!!

    I completely agree with you about how a persons opinion of Catherine will improve after reading this novel. I finished the book with a sympathetic view to her circumstances... she seriously had to be the woman she was out of survival!

    Can't wait for C.W.'s next novel about Isabella of Castile... 2012 is just too far away ;)

  2. This sounds like an amazing read. Will be purchasing it from my local bookstore immediately. Great review by-the-way. Full of passion.

  3. Wow Lizzy a 5/5...this must be great! I'd love to read it since anything I've read about Catherine has portrayed her as a weak, simple woman and no match for his mistress Diane. The last book I read about Henri and Diane really wierded me out with her being so much older than about a Thanks for the great review and giveaway and for making my wishlist even longer! Fondly, Roberta

  4. Svea, it is so true Gortner has a gift for putting the shoe on the other foot and I really could not help but feel empathy for her. I know 2012 is so so so far away but I can not wait to see how he plays her out because in The Last Queen she was very zealous in her beliefs. It will be very interesting to say the least.

    Melissa, Thank you for the kudos. It was a really good read. Honestly I tried to read "The Devils Queen" by Jeanne Kalogridis before this. It played Catherine out like a black magic witch and was by far one of the worst books I have ever "tried" to read. Confessions was more of a realistic version for me.

    Roberta, it was that good there is a few scenes in particular that I still vividly recall because they were very very real. I know the whole Diane thing really threw me because I would kill her. I agree cougar for sure was she not his babysitter at one point too? Hehe glad I added to your list!


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