my challenges

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner.

This book, written from the first-person perspective of Catherine de Medici, covers her life from her youth in Italy (too little of her youth, in my opinion) through her roles as French Queen, then Regent to two of her sons, then Queen Mother, to her death.

It is a fascinating story, for the most part well told.  When I began the first page, I thought I was going to have to struggle to get into the book as I read the first few sentences.  But suddenly I looked up and realized that without noticing it I had somehow read myself to page 50 and was eager to poke my nose back into the book where I'd left off.  Needless to say, that particular worry did not materialize.  In the end I wound up thoroughly enjoying this book, and learning a fair bit about the infamous woman at its core and about the tumultuous period of French history in which she lived and reigned.

Two minor quibbles.  First, the editor appeared to have gotten either tired or lazy at one point about mid-way through, because all of a sudden there were perhaps a half a dozen instances in quick succession where words were left out of sentences, which was a bit distracting.  Second, the author presumed a bit too much knowledge or perceptiveness on the part of at least this reader, because I found myself repeatedly puzzled as to the silent agreements reached between people, indicated by smirks and nods and knowing glances.  The characters, it seemed, always seemed to know more than I did.  I think if some of the private agreements passing between the characters had been spelled out a bit more it would have helped the story a bit.

Nonetheless, over all I found this to be a delightful book, and I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is interested in that period in French history.  4.5 out of 5.

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